I work as a psychotherapist in Silicon Valley. It’s the hub of the high-tech world. We’ve got technology giants like Google, Facebook, and Apple. It’s a center of innovation (think iPhones, Pixar movies, and high-tech start-ups) that attracts driven, creative, high-achievers. It’s the perfect breeding ground for workaholics.
Signs you’re a workaholic:
- Routinely take work home and it interferes with your personal life or you feel resentful
- You’ve maxed out your vacation time, haven’t taken a vacation in more than a year, or you work while on vacation
- You work through lunch (and maybe dinner, too)
- You have stress-related health problems such as headaches, insomnia, muscle tension
- You’re always tired
- Your family complains about how much you work
- You work to avoid your emotions or problems
- You cancel personal plans because you have to work
- You think about work even when you’re not at work
- You volunteer or agree to cover for coworkers who are out
- You don’t take sick days
If this sounds like you, ask yourself why you’re working so much.
Why are you overworking?
Are you working toward something (promotion, award, success)? Or are you working to get away from something (problems at home, lack of social connection, fear/anger/shame)?
Does everyone at your company work 80 hours a week? Is this the expectation or company culture?
Are you working overtime or a second job by choice to pay off some bills?
Or maybe you’re a perfectionist or type-A personality who spends a lot of time perfecting, correcting, and redoing work. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that perfectionists and Type-A’s are often workaholics.
The strategies you choose for decreasing your workaholic behavior will depend on the reasons for your overworking. Below are some suggestions that may help.
How to stop overworking:
- Let go of perfection. All of your work doesn’t have to be done perfectly. Opt for getting it done rather than spending extra time making it perfect.
- Delay your responses. Most things aren’t urgent and usually don’t require a response on weekends or vacations. You need to retrain your boss, customers, and colleagues to have different expectations about your availability. Once you stop answering emails at midnight or picking up the phone on Sunday, they will learn not to expect a response from you until Monday.
- Set boundaries. You have to start saying “no” to extra assignments, unrealistic deadlines, filling in for coworkers. Don’t be too available or people will take advantage of you.
- Detach your self-worth from your work. You are more than your job. Linking your self-worth to your career success is a sure path to burnout.
- Get support. This could be in the form of a supportive friend, colleague or supervisor. A therapist can be really helpful in sorting out causes and solutions.
- Be realistic. Get honest about your work environment, workload, and company culture. If it isn’t right for you and can’t be changed, it may be time to move on.
- Prioritize according to your values. Sometimes our actions and beliefs are not in alignment. For example, if you value close family relationships, but don’t make time for them, you’ll be unhappy and out of alignment with your values.
- Think about your future. Is this the kind of work you really want to be doing? What are your career goals? What are your personal goals and how does this job support those goals?