March 22, 2010 at 7:23 pm #95643
According to Workaholics Anonymous if you answer “Yes” to three or more of the following questions you may be a workaholic:
If you trend toward being a workaholic, how has it impacted you?For more information and additional questions check out my latest blog post titled “https://www.govloop.com/profiles/blogs/workaholism-a-true-story“
- Do you get more excited about your work than about family or anything else?
- Are there times when you can charge through your work and other times when you can’t?
- Do you take work with you to bed? On weekends? On vacation?
- Is work the activity you like to do best and talk about most?
- Do you work more than 40 hours a week?
- Do you turn your hobbies into money-making ventures?
- Do you take complete responsibility for the outcome of your work efforts?
- Have your family or friends given up expecting you on time?
- Do you take on extra work because you are concerned that it won’t otherwise get done?
- Do you underestimate how long a project will take and then rush to complete it?
- Do you believe that it is okay to work long hours if you love what you are doing?
- Do you get impatient with people who have other priorities besides work?
- Are you afraid that if you don’t work hard you will lose your job or be a failure?
- Is the future a constant worry for you even when things are going very well?
- Do you do things energetically and competitively including play?
- Do you get irritated when people ask you to stop doing your work in order to do something else?
- Have your long hours hurt your family or other relationships?
- Do you think about your work while driving, falling asleep or when others are talking?
- Do you work or read during meals?
- Do you believe that more money will solve the other problems in your life?
March 23, 2010 at 12:35 pm #95699
Yes to all the above but am seriously working on changing! Really I am! Ooops there’s the phone and email got to run….. LOL
March 25, 2010 at 1:26 pm #95697
Heather S. MarshParticipant
Strong work ethic + the inability to sit and do “nothing” + mobile technology = Heather’s a workaholic
I really don’t want to be…I really would like to be one of those people who go home and “flip the switch”! I charge through my day at top speed, eat my lunch at my desk, develop ridiculous to-do lists, and crash when I get home. Yes…I know I need balance. But I honestly have no clue how to achieve it!!!
Sorry for the rant…
March 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm #95695
WorkaHolism may not be the best term for the condition. After all, work, from the physics definition, requires some amount of accomplishment to qualify. Spending time doing things that don’t is called “effort”. If you decant out of the day what effort actually contributed to work, I think most of us would agree that getting forty hours of work out of 40+ hours of effort is the weekly challenge. In fact, as the meter runs past the 40, effectiveness begins to drop dramatically. That is, if this is a consistent schedule. As managers, the most valuable work we can do is thinking. Notice that the highest rate of compensation we pay out is to people who are in the thinking business and the lowest rate is paid to those who do tasks. Managers who spend hours doing tasks are actually not present as managers at all. My sense is that often times we use jobs, and particularly tasks, as a retreat from something else less pleasant: a sort of therapy. The best managers I have ever seen shared in common that trait that they let others do tasks while they spent as much time as possible thinking about how to improve the product of other peoples’ work. Imagine what 10 hours of thinking a week, every week, would do for the progress of our assigned department, division, company, etc.
So what’s the best thing we can do for our entities as regards to “work”? Think more; task less. You’ll be home by 5 most days and your entity will outshine all those around it. Time, afterall, is an INPUT measure. We need to be in the OUTPUT business.
March 25, 2010 at 1:38 pm #95693
Melissa K McAvoyParticipant
I guess half of these are true, but I really try to have a balanced life. I am busy a lot, but that’s the way I thrive. I work sometimes on Sunday and late on the weekdays, but I have no children and have the time to do that. I guess I feel like it’s important to work hard when you are young and have fewer responsibilities so that you can save for when you are older and have a family. I think it’s also important to show your boss that you are dedicated so when you really want or need time off or to leave early, they are more than happy to let you go.
March 25, 2010 at 2:07 pm #95691
Interesting read. Thanks.
I think the answer relies on whether the “work” needs to be done at others times besides when you are on the clock.
March 25, 2010 at 2:15 pm #95689
Margaret Dixon HarrellParticipant
I love your logic and completely agree. We often measure ourselves on what we have “done”. Unfortunately, we have to “do” so much because we do not think first. We spend time undoing what others have done without thinking and then others must undo what we have done. Consequently a lot of “doing” is occurring without moving the pendulum one way or the other.
However, when I suggest we spend “more time thinking” I am not referring to the atypical self serving process. Instead I am suggesting we step outside of our immediate needs or wants and try to understand what effects our actions will have on all parties involved. Ten hours a week of that type of thinking would increase our output by magnitudes. Right now I am working on accomplishing ten minutes a day of this type of thinking. It takes me about 40 minutes to unwind first.
March 25, 2010 at 2:20 pm #95687
E. Steven EmanuelParticipant
Absolutely. In an IT leadership role, if you don’t have this trait, either you have lots of superior workaholics working for you or your not committed to that “next strategy”
The only way I’ve “turned work off” is to travel where I can NOT be in contact with work. A cruise or travel to some remote islands or parts of Mexico is planned at least every 18-24 months. I may still take a small project, but usually I can complete it with the silence and lack of email so I feel accomplishment but have time to relax.
Family vacations are set with early morning work (usually before anyone is up) and the Blackberry is not carried during the day. So far, the two vacation combinations have worked and I still find doing what we all find a challenge to be day to day rewarding.
March 25, 2010 at 2:22 pm #95685
I think all conscientious people would answer yes to some or all of these questions. No hard-working professional can turn off their mind when they go home. But those people who are on their Blackberrys and I-phones constantly have an inflated sense of their importance. Very few things, unless their is some true crisis situtation – and those will be few and far between – cannot wait until the next day. And I have found that those people who “Blackberry & I-phone” constantly are no more efficient and get no more work done than their counterparts who, for the most part, leave work at work. In fact, I think many of them get less work done, because, let’s face it – much of what they are doing has nothing to do with their job; or, they are disorganized and inefficient. Seems like a few years ago people were more focused during the workday and got more done in less time without all the electronic interruptions (excepting email & Internet).
March 25, 2010 at 2:42 pm #95683
I’ve been accused of being a ‘workaholic’ …
I like things to be done well and to be on time, so it is hard to turn that off the minute I walk out of the office. Then, as a reward for doing a good job, more assignments get sent my way. Hence, the plate that often seems too full. There are too many disruptions in a typical day at the office to get everything done. I also try to keep a balanced life, in that I do not allow work to detract from my family responsibilities. Something has to give though – for me, the sacrifices are sleep and ‘me’ time. That’s not a complaint – I like what I do – it’s just reality. Blackberry’s are definitely addictive. However, I find that it’s an expectation, even when I am on vacation, that if anything important comes from management, I will see it and respond in a timely manner.
March 25, 2010 at 2:46 pm #95681
Please take serious note that addictions, especially workaholism, are serious diseases. The term should not be used lightly regardless of the great number of us that suffer from this disease. When a person is addicted to something (work, alcohol, drugs, sex, diet pills, books, etc) they are using that thing to numb out from deeply rooted problems that need addressing. When a person actually addresses those problems, the addiction becomes a habit that can be dealt with openly – but with a hell of a lot of work. It is this work – personal growth work – that is hard, makes people feel vulnerable, and is rarely taken on in our society. Yes, even personal growth work is something a person can get addicted to to numb out from some other problem. It can be anything.
Please take time to read up on the twelve steps and twelve traditions. Always remember that “God” is intended to refer to a person’s higher power however that is interpreted for that person – not necessarily one divine being. You can Google the classics yourself, so I will bring your attention to one of the lesser known versions: Codependents Anonymous (CODA). http://www.codependents.org/tools4recovery/twelvesteps.pdf. For programs I am aware of that can actually help a person do that hard, scary, unusual work to move their life into better balance, I bring your attention to these: http://www.womanwithin.org, http://www.mkp.org, http://www.lightly.com. This is not an advertisement. I’ve just been down this road and back again to tell the tale. Help is there for those who want it. Yours, Lara Coutinho
March 25, 2010 at 2:59 pm #95679
Wow! Apparently I have struck a chord…Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts and stories!!!
Lara, Great feedback! You might want to read my blog post that precipitated this discussion for I agree with you 100%:
or reposted on GovLoop here.
My goal is to raise awareness of “workaholism” of those afflicted, their family, friends and the companies they work for that may be contributing (or at least taking advantage of) this condition. I am truly thinking BIG and want to spread the word…
Thanks again for all your comments and for sharing!
March 25, 2010 at 3:03 pm #95677
Thanks! 🙂 The previous link was bad. Good to be on board with you. –Lara
March 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm #95675
Do you carry more than one device to receive work related emails and notifications?
Do you find yourself thinking about work potential in the shower?
Have you ever blown off Sunday Football for office time?
Do you kids know the way from your parking spot to your office door by heart?
Did the ability to text during meetings and hearings save your marriage?
Yeah – I’ve been a workaholic at times.
March 25, 2010 at 3:38 pm #95673
Dudes, the extent y’all are going to in order to get work done is painful to see. Please tell me what you *CAN* do to rein it in? Coping mechanisms? Boundary holders? Conflict management phrases that saved your butt? I hear your pain. Now what are you going to do about it? One step at a time – even if they’re small steps.
March 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm #95671
Andrew D WelchParticipant
Thanks, Bill, for posting and getting us all thinking. I responded more fully in a blog post just now where I referenced your post and hope others will check it out. My thoughts are at http://www.andrewdwelch.com/2010/03/how-do-you-balance-work-and-pleasure.html, but the long and the short is below…
As I debated this issue, I realized how freely I use the word “work,” really to mean any activity with a clear and productive end in mind. I make little distinction between sitting at my desk at the office and, say, writing for pleasure because I don’t take a negative view of work. “Work” is simply an activity characterized by the presence of effort in order to achieve something. Any activity no so characterized would, I suppose, be considered “not work.” There is no value judgement here, and simply, I would say “if you love what you’re doing, and willingly do it for pleasure, you’re not a workaholic.”
March 25, 2010 at 5:23 pm #95669
Once upon a time I used to be a type B couch potato, had a nice balanced life, knew how to relax, enjoy hobbies, etc. Then I changed jobs, to one I love, where I get paid for what I used to do on vacation! And to do a whole heck of a lot of other ‘stuff’ (other duties as assigned became much greater than the assigned duties). I became a type A workaholic. I worked late, took stuff home, took stuff on vacation, and actually met all the crazy deadlines with good products. Then seriously burned out. Big time. Now I’m trying to re-find that balance (I did learn, the office will go on without me, and in some cases, better than one I was there). Lesson learned — no matter how indispensable you feel you are or how indispensable management may say you are, the office will survive with out you. Make sure to take time for yourself, for your happiness, for your health. Stress can be a killer…. even good stress….
March 25, 2010 at 5:25 pm #95667
Excellent advice for avoiding the “putting out fires” syndrome! I find that focusing on the “why” as well as the how of a given task helps ensure that I’m doing the right work. It’s no good to find yourself at the end of a task well done only to learn that it isn’t serving stakeholders’ needs.
March 25, 2010 at 7:25 pm #95665
Just to further the clarification, having a serious clinical problem may require more than self-help. Please use your company’s EAP or call a crisis hotline or your local helpline or mental health authority for referrals to qualified mental health professionals.
On the other hand, if you are one of us who just wants to discuss fast-paced life today and feeling like a workaholic,…. discuss away! I’ll be throwing my 2 cents in!
March 25, 2010 at 7:33 pm #95663
IMHO, it is more difficult today than ever before to have a “balanced” life of any sort. There are so many studies examining the role of stress in health issues, the lack of “equity” for working women, and the stress of having 24/7 accessibility to the world…. i know most days I feel like I “work” from about 7am to 9 or 10pm… because after leaving “work” I go home and do more “work” – cleaning, feeding, arranging, laundry, etc. There isn’t any less of that to do simply because I leave the house to “work” every day – there are just fewer hours in which to accomplish it all! So, something has to go…. some things go undone or not cleaned, some chores fall by the wayside, not everything gets the attention that it should… but we all just do the best we can to meet the needs within and around us!
March 25, 2010 at 7:52 pm #95661
Out of 20 questions, I answered yes to 17 of them. As I write this, some colleagues are waiting on me for a special happy hour to celebrate the end of a training event. And I’ll leave to join them just as soon as I can get a couple more things done before calling it a day . . . And since I’m not going to be able to log in my usual 10 to 12 hours, I’ll be working for a little while tomorrow – on my day off . . . when I’m supposed to be preparing for a weekend trip – to work for a non-profit.
March 25, 2010 at 8:15 pm #95659
Yes and the Blackberry contributed to it.
Getting a mentor helped. Her advice was that at some point in a successful career, no one can possibly complete all of the potential tasks. Focus on the high value items. Either delegate the rest or leave them undone. It will become easier to walk out with unfinished tasks over time.
I work in an organization where two people died recently on the same weekend in separate traffic accidents. An ambulance shows up at the front gate on average once a week. Heart attacks, asthma, other issues are common.
Several years ago, I read a Swedish psychology study on personality types for government employees. Defense and IRS types tended to be very anxious. I suspect it is because of the nature of their work rather than a predisposition to join those organizations.
My two cents–now back to work!
March 25, 2010 at 10:23 pm #95657
Hi Bill, great topic!
If you love what you do, and balance this with other things in your personal life that you love, I don’t think the dreaded Workaholic label seems to fit. Many of the questions listed above demonstrate an interest in what you get paid to do, rather than a problem or obsession that needs to be fixed by more down time. Maybe we could filter out the “Houston, we have a problem” questions vs. the “healthy interest in your profession” questions.
Besides, if you love what you do, does it count as “work”?
March 26, 2010 at 1:58 am #95655
For those interested in continuing this discussion on an ongoing basis, I have created a group titled ‘Not So Anonymous‘ to provide proactive support to those afflicted, their families, friends and the companies/agencies they work for.
Thanks again for all the comments, suggestions, and for sharing your individual stories. I hope to respond to as many as possible in the coming days.
March 26, 2010 at 3:23 pm #95653
March 26, 2010 at 4:26 pm #95651
Guilty as charged! My current solution is to “put in my eight and hit the gate.” Forced to impose strict time management and Voila! things are getting done on time and in less time.
March 27, 2010 at 5:37 am #95649
Gary Hayslip, CISSP, CISA, PMPParticipant
I would say I am one in training, I definately identify with the working more than 40 hours and if I dont do it then it wont get done mentality.
March 30, 2010 at 8:02 pm #95647
Heather, your formula says it all! Strong work ethic + the inability to sit and do “nothing” + mobile technology = Salina’s a workaholic! I think you should form a group for us in your spare time…LOL!
I will say that I think workaholics are often times misunderstood. We really just are people with a strong passion for learning and being the very best we can in everything we do.
March 30, 2010 at 8:14 pm #95645
Heather S. MarshParticipant
Maybe I’ll add “Form Support Group for Government Workaholics” to my unrealistic to-do list! 😉
Think we’ll get many members?
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