Work-life balance is heralded as the pinnacle of personal achievement as more individuals find themselves working far more than the stereotypical 9 to 5 shift.
Being able to produce quality work on a daily basis and maintain a healthy personal life can be more of a challenge for some, particularly if you are a workaholic.
Some wear this label with a sense of pride, while others are in deep denial. The fact of the matter is, true workaholics are much like alcoholics who try to hide they have a problem.
“The preoccupation with work is really at the core of what workaholism is,” Bryan E. Robinson, a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and a psychotherapist with a private practice told WebMD. “I always say that the difference between someone who’s a true workaholic and someone who’s just a hard worker is that the workaholic is on the ski slopes dreaming about being back at work, and the hard worker is in the office dreaming about being on the ski slope.”
There are many signs you are workaholic, but below are a few:
- Your sense of self-worth is tied to your work success.
- Your personal relationships are strained.
- You struggle to delegate.
- You can’t turn off.
- You don’t feel well.
Just like any other addiction, working too much can result in serious health consequences including headaches, depression, gastrointestinal problems and higher risks of heart attacks and Type 2 diabetes.
If you are still wondering if you are a workaholic, take this quiz here.
Now that you’re aware you have an additional challenge of overcoming the need to work excessively, we can start addressing some of the various methods to bring life and balance back into the equation.
First of all, keep in mind that no one’s life situation is exactly the same, so many of these tips are going to take some tweaking to suit you personally. The right balance for an employee who is single versus a manager with a wife and kids is going to vary.
Just like a diet, no one can make you have a more balanced life if you don’t want to. Take the time to figure out what is important to you and what you want most out of life. You aren’t a bad person if you actually do get a lot of enjoyment out of your work. You just need to take care it’s not the only place where you find joy.
If having a balance between your work life and personal life is important to you, you will make an effort to carve out the time for those who are high on your priority list, rather than giving them whatever time is left over after you finish all of your work.
You know what makes you happy, so you are the one who is going to have to figure out how to make space for those to have a larger portion of your life. Analyzing your habits for a week can help clue you in on time wasters that can be eliminated, such as mindless scrolling on social media in the evening.
Your co-workers are not mind readers, so unless you tell them about the family emergency that’s going on, no one is going to cut you any slack. Letting your colleagues or your boss know when you are struggling can help reduce stress, as you can look at practical alternatives.
As a leader of a landscaping company, you need to communicate to customers when are appropriate times of contact. Although technology can make you feel like you must be available constantly, you have a personal life too, so never feel obligated to respond to clients over topics that can wait until you are back in the office. Setting boundaries with clients can help give you peace of mind when you are away.
Having a strong support system at home and talking with friends and family about difficult times at work can help you as well. Keeping loved ones up to date on your calendar and when you will be working late can help avoid unnecessary misunderstandings.
Learn to say “no”
Obviously, you can’t just tell your boss no to any task they assign you because you don’t feel like it, but if you are offered an opportunity to work overtime and you planned to spend time with your son that weekend, you are completely within your rights to say “Thanks, but no thanks.”
On the owner side of things, while some may think any business is good business, landscape industry experts can tell you some customers are not worth the trouble. If you are trying to keep your work stress at a minimum, avoid taking on jobs you know are going to end in headaches and minimal revenue.
Saying no doesn’t only apply to the work side of things either. Your free time is precious, so you need to take care not to overcommit by promising to help with multiple charities, babysitting your niece and cleaning out the attic all on the same weekend. Just having a packed calendar can make you feel stressed, so resist the urge to volunteer to help with everything.
Turn off distractions
Technology has helped make life easier in a lot of ways, but it can also make you feel like you never really leave work either. Because you’ll always have customers who will still contact you at any hour no matter how many times you’ve told them your business hours, you have to be the one to turn off email notifications when you’re spending time with family.
Yes, if you get a message about an urgent matter that cannot wait, handle it. However, you should not be using your free time to answer non-critical emails after hours.
Another good way to ensure you stay unplugged is to lose yourself in a hobby or activity that requires all your focus. When all your attention is on the task at hand, you won’t catch yourself scrolling through your inbox looking for extra work to do.
Keep in mind that while these are all good steps to take to provide more balance to your life, you have to truly want it first before you can set about achieving it.