Whether you love your job or simply tolerate it, it can take a significant amount of your time each week. While you may have fixed hours you also understand the reality of meeting job requirements and performance expectations, and it may mean working beyond 9 to 5. Some people will gladly put in the extra time, especially if it means they will maintain job security or possibly get ahead.
Then there are people who will put in the extra time because of working for a demanding supervisor or manager, and their work must be completed – even if the workload is unrealistic. Regardless of the reason why you may put in extra time it can lead to becoming a workaholic. While there are some people who can handle working at a frantic pace, at some point everyone needs to take a break. However, it is still possible to be a workaholic and also be successful. The key to success is working in an efficient manner.
Are You in a Demanding Job?
Every career has significance and every job has an ability to become demanding. Over time you develop a routine and learn the specifics about your job, which includes how to get the job done and what the minimum amount of effort is required. Most people develop habits that allow them to accomplish daily routine duties, which includes habits of thought and habits of personal productivity. This allows a person to show up to work, complete what is required, and not expend any extra effort.
But those methods of working may not always be effective and as a result, you may find yourself putting in more time than what is necessary. For those people who are highly productive they can put in extra time and accomplish a great deal. A job can become demanding and require extra time, voluntary or not, and working extra hours can also become habitual. Over time it can feel normal to work longer than required and if so, that can cause you to become a workaholic.
Have You Become a Workaholic?
A workaholic is someone who works extended hours, either out of obligation or for any other reason, and they have done so long enough that it now has become a habit – something they may no longer be able to control. If you were to ask someone for a definition you may likely be told that a workaholic is an employee who is slaving away throughout the night, ignoring family and friends, and basically becoming a zombie. But there are more subtle forms of being a workaholic. It could involve arriving to work early to put in extra time or staying late after working hours and doing this on a prolonged basis. A workaholic may not realize that they have established this pattern until someone points it out to them or they are not completing everything that is important to them.
There is another workaholic that has become prevalent and it is the person who enjoys being busy and never seems to mind working beyond the required hours. It may be difficult to distinguish this approach to working from the others, or understand why someone would have this disposition. But there are some people who enjoy being busy and are very career driven. For anyone who views work in this manner it is necessary to establish priorities to ensure that your work is done with purpose.
Do You Have Career Goals?
If you are a workaholic then your top priority is likely to be your career. If you want to devote that much time to your job then be sure to establish what you want to accomplish with the time you are investing into your job. Before you do, consider if you are spending your time as effectively as you can each day. One method of self-checking your habits of productivity is to change the order in which you work.
A change in routine can prompt critical thinking skills and that will help you to re-think how you work and the habits you have formed. It is always much easier to return to well-established habits so make this self-analysis something you do with an intention to refine and update your skills. The purpose is to work towards something you want to gain for your career and make your time productive. Then consider this job in the bigger picture of your career and how it is contributing to your career goals. In other words, don't put all of this time into your job without connecting it to a specific career outcome.
Five Strategies to Maintain Success as a Workaholic
The strategies provided below can be utilized by any workaholic to establish habits for success.
#1. Recognize you have become a workaholic. Keep track of your time for a 30 day period and as you work more than what is required make a notation of the reason why. Once you have established that you are working beyond the required hours, and you have done this intentionally, you can put that time to work for good use.
#2. Understand why you work. If you are a workaholic out of necessity, consider whether or not you can cut corners or for any of your job duties. If you devote extra time because you enjoy it, ask yourself if you are working towards a specific goal. This presents you with an opportunity to establish direction in your career.
#3. Learn to separate work from busywork. There is a difference between investing time and working with a purpose, and being busy just for the sake of keeping yourself busy. Some people find they are shifting papers from one stack to another or organizing and reorganizing their work. That's busywork and not always productive, which is why you need to establish daily and weekly priorities.
#4. Learn to control technology. There is another reason why someone finds there is a need to devote extra time on the job – they are not managing their use of technology effectively. I know employees who will spend time on social networking websites and then find they are in a time crunch to get their work completed. A well-managed career requires managing time spent online, which includes everything from email to social networking.
#5. Connect your time to specific goals. If you are devoting extra time to your job then consider how many days you do this based upon the career goals you have established. You will likely find that if you use your time wisely you can give yourself a break on occasion, especially when you need downtime or simply want to enjoy much needed time off for personal reasons.
You Do Need Downtime
There is no reason why you cannot become a workaholic. The question is whether or not that is a choice you want to make. Perhaps you weren't aware of how you were working until you mapped out the use of your time – and for some people they thrive when they have many projects or tasks to complete. The challenge is being productive so that you can meet your career goals and be successful with your efforts. If you are working more than you would like to, regardless of the reason, now is the time to consider what tasks you can eliminate, or methods of work you can streamline, so that you will gain better control of your time.
No one can work at full throttle, whether or not they enjoy it, for an extended period of time without experiencing some form of adverse reaction. This could include feeling worn down, feeling overwhelmed, or any other negative emotional or physical condition. Even a short break can cause you to feel refreshed and may even spark renewed creativity. A workaholic can be successful if this person is using their time in a productive manner and focused on completing their career goals. You will find when you are balancing your time and priorities it results in long-term success. While there is a negative connotation with the word workaholic, it's your career and only you decide how and when you work. If your career is a priority now, then the time you invest will be well-spent and productive.
About Dr. Johnson
Dr. Johnson has worked in the field of higher education and distance learning since 2005. He specializes in distance learning, adult education, faculty development, online teaching, career management, and career development. Dr. J has a Ph.D. in Postsecondary and Adult Education, a Certificate in Training and Performance Improvement, and a Master of Business Administration, MBA. Presently Dr. J is a Core Faculty member for one of the premiere online universities, fulfilling his life's mission to teach, mentor, write, and inspire others.
As a scholar practitioner, Dr. J was published in a scholarly journal and he has been a featured presenter at an international distance learning conference. He has also published over 200 online articles about adult learning, higher education, distance learning, online teaching, and career development.
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