Are You a Workaholic?

By Mel Sim

Careful, always working isn’t exactly a good thing.

Always the first to log in to work and the last to log out? Constantly thinking about work even when you’re not supposed to be like the weekends and vacation time? Do you feel like you don’t really have anything else going on for you except for work?

Finding it hard to unplug?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, it points to you being a workaholic. You must have heard of this phrase many times; in fact, the term “workaholism” was first used in 1971 by psychologist Wayne Oates, defining it as a compulsion or an uncontrollable need to work incessantly.

Sounds crazy? Who wants to work all day all night, and think about nothing but just work? Malaysians – that’s who! In a study by Kisi in 2020, Kuala Lumpur ranked fourth for most overworked city, which is the same ranking in 2019. This means we’re consistently up there in the list of workaholics just behind cities like Hong Kong, Singapore and Seoul. And with #WFH in full force, you find yourself working even more hours now that you don’t have to put up with traffic getting to and from work as well as meetings.

What’s the problem with being a workaholic? Working more means doing more at work, and that should win some brownie points with the boss, right? Not quite. Ever heard of the phrase “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?” That’s what workaholism does to you on top of leading to high levels of stress, anxiety, depression and sleep problems according to this study.

But if you are workaholic you knew all that already because you’re probably experiencing some degree of it all. When you are overworking yourself, your mind and body don’t shut down. This can be a huge hazard to your health because everyone needs rest. Working into the late hours also means cutting down the amount of sleep you should be getting. We all know what lack of sleep does to your focus, attention span and health!

Working incessantly can also mean not eating at regular hours because you’re so busy trying to clear your inbox or eating at odd hours and quickly finishing your meal so you can get back to work. Or even eating unhealthy food because that’s the most convenient. All of which isn’t great for your body or immune system!

Which is why you’re constantly falling sick – with the lack of rest, lack of sleep, and lack of proper nutrition. And when you are constantly sick, you’re taking more sick days off work or not being able to focus properly, all of which doesn’t bode well with your boss – so being a workaholic is the total opposite of trying to excel at work!

Do you find yourself getting quickly annoyed at your colleagues? That’s what long hours can do to you. Also, overworking yourself can cause you to feel miserable and no longer have fun at work. You may even start to hate what you do.

Ultimately, you can’t keep up being a workaholic forever. You may feel like you’re on a high at first, getting things completed and being absolutely engaged at work but in short, workaholics burn out because they fail to look after themselves both physically and mentally. All that “few extra hours” you put in at work will eventually take its toll on you when you don’t give yourself a break, leading to burnout.

In short, don’t give yourself a medal yet for being the hardest working in your team. It could actually backfire on you. If your workaholic lifestyle is getting the better of you, try these steps to dial it back a little:

#1 Set boundaries

Don’t check emails when you’re not working. Shut down and log off when it is time for rest. Essentially, you need to be clear on when you are supposed to be working and when you should be off work.

#2 Adjust your mindset towards work

Yes, you want to do well at work but not at the expense of your health and happiness. Keep telling yourself that working around the clock doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be good or successful at your job. What will make you good at it? If you love what you do – and being a workaholic will take that joy from you.

#3 Learn how to unplug

Don’t know what to do with yourself if you’re not working? Maybe it’s time to explore other things to do that doesn’t involve work. Give yourself that much needed break to do mindless things like watch a movie or maybe even just sleep. When you are on leave from work, make sure you tell your colleagues, boss and clients so they know not to disturb you with work. Turn off that email push notification if you can so you won’t feel the need to check your email all the time.

#4 Exercise

This is one way to get your mind off work – and it’s great for your health. Just 30 to 60 minutes a day of moderate activity is all you need.

Picture by Laura Davidson on Unsplash

Share this article: