The other day I heard someone tell me and others about how passionate he was about his business, and describe how he worked from 16 hour days, seven days a week for it. He sounded passionate, but I couldn’t help wonder how long he could really keep it up, and what it really sounded like was someone trying to do everything at once. He sounded like a workaholic. Sadly he’s not alone in such devotion to work.
I once had a college professor who told me that on a good week he only worked 80 hours. And I remember an interview I went to where I was told that overtime without pay was expected and that my first priority had to be my job and everything else second. Personally I’ve never understood such devotion to working for other people, or working such long hours, and the occasions I’ve done it, I’ve found myself burned out, uninspired, and disenchanted with work as a result.
There’s this cultural glorification of workaholism. Go into the office and work all day and night and stagger home and then do it again. Don’t spend time with your kids or partner, because work is more important. Getting things done on your list is more important. The job is more important than living life. Or your business, if you own one.
When I work with clients, one of the areas we focus on is work-life balance and what I point out to them is that less time spent working actually makes them more productive. It’s true, because when you have less time for work, the time you spend working is focused on getting the top priority items done. Whereas if you work all the time, you’ll waste a lot of time on busy work.
There’s no glory in workaholicism…just a lot of work and burnout with few rewards. If you’re on salary, there’s no reward for overwork…if anything you get paid less for the work you do. Poor relationships with your family leave you poorer than any amount of money can provide for.
We are told to work hard, and work is exulted. Work has its place and is necessary, but workaholicism isn’t. I say work smart as well as hard. Learn how to focus on what you really need to do and leave the rest until it becomes what you really need to do. work will always be around, but you may not be.