Do you work while on vacation?
Do you check emails on your phone at dinner?
Do you squeeze in one last phone call before leaving the office?
If you're in an unhealthy addictive relationship with work, you're far from alone; so many of us now are working such long hours that it's hard to know what's even normal.
Working hard is a good thing--up to a point. Overwork doesn't help your productivity, and it's harmful to you. It's time to learn how to get back in balance. Here are some pointers.
1. Learn to shut it down.
Make a pact with yourself that you will not work past a certain time, and honor that time to shut everything down. Learn to walk away.
2. Give yourself a break.
Learn to give yourself breaks during the workday, even if they're small ones. Go out for lunch instead of eating at your desk. Take a short walk around the office or a quick trip to a nearby park--anything that changes the scenery. Even 10 minutes away can make a world of difference.
3. Change your mindset.
You may be among the many people who believe that long hours demonstrate your great work ethic and that those who take breaks (or spend evenings, weekends, and vacations disconnected) are lazy or less committed. But that way of thinking is both inaccurate and unhealthy, so push back when you catch yourself giving in to it. Remember, what you think is what you are.
4. Treat it seriously.
When you are consumed with work and act as if your life were dependent on your job, you're likely damaging your health and relationships. You need to take change seriously. If need be, consider getting help to learn better skills for balancing your life.
5. Don't bring it home.
The hardest test of all! When you go home, make a point of turning off your phone and disconnecting from your email. Instead, take time for friends and family. It's time to be the person who just might be unavailable to work for a while--and unless you're literally saving lives with your job, that's OK.
6. Meditate on it.
More than most people, workaholics need to learn to turn off their thinking mind. The practice of meditation is a great way to make that happen. Take some time every day and consciously slow down, breathe, relax, rest your mind, and feed your heart.
7. Set healthy boundaries.
Many people who are prone to chronic overwork also have trouble setting and maintaining boundaries. As a starting point, make a work schedule and commit to it. If you need to include some late evening or weekend hours, that's fine--but do it intentionally, based on schedules and patterns, not just because you're already there and you haven't yet dropped from exhaustion.
Being a workaholic doesn't benefit anyone--not you, not your team, not your organization, not the world.
You'll be much more effective--not to mention happier--with adequate rest, sleep, breaks, and time to cultivate relationships and interests outside of work. Self-care keeps you on top of your game and in the game.