With 25 years of business experience under my belt, I’ve seen enough and experienced enough to know that success attained through luck or happenstance is usually fleeting and that hard work is the ultimate key to true, long-term success. For that reason, any budding businessperson is likely to find that success can entail getting little sleep, eating on the run and putting work before a personal life.
Being an overachiever has its benefits, but not maintaining a balance between work and play also has its affects. Here are some tips I’ve learned about moderation, balance, and the pitfalls of being a workaholic; lessons that will ultimately make you a better manager, a better employee and a better person.
Overworking is a Health Hazard
If you’re a workaholic, there’s a good chance that you may be neglecting your health. Do you take time to enjoy balanced meals throughout the course of your day, or do you grab whatever’s fast and easy (which often means plenty of calories and fat)? People who regularly work overtime have a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease. In addition, long hours staring at computer screens can lead to vision problems and headaches. That’s not to mention the high depression rates among office overachievers.
Make a concerted effort to eat nutritious, balanced meals that help sustain you throughout the day. Start each day with some sort of exercise to help reduce stress before the chaos of the day begins. When your body is healthy, it’s easier to focus your mind when it’s time to work at the office.
Overworking Kills the Fun Factor
Among other wealthy countries in the world, the United States is one of the few that does not impose mandated paid vacation time on employers. While Americans are often overtired and overworked, many of our European counterparts enjoy daily siestas and indulge in long, lavish meals, even during the week. You don’t have to move across the Atlantic in an effort to strike a healthier work/life balance; just make changes in your life at home that will help provide balance.
Even if you like your job, working at a maintained high-intensity level can make you miserable. Take advantage of vacation time that you’ve earned. Keep up an active social life, spend time with family and do the things that make you happy.
Although work responsibilities may even increase as you progress at your job, your stress level needn’t go up as well. Don’t ever let work stand in the way of a family meal, a kid’s soccer game or a special occasion with the important people in your life.
It’s easy to assume that the amount of hours you put in at the office is directly proportional to the amount of work you can complete. However, lifestyle changes that promote a healthier, well-rested, less-stressed version of yourself can actually make you more productive and efficient in the hours you do work than the tired, stressed-out version would be able to accomplish.
Delegation is Your Friend
Do you ever feel so overwhelmed with multiple to-do lists that it feels impossible to take time out of your schedule to delegate tasks to others? Even when administrative assistance is available, if your mind is too cloudy and disorganized to figure out how to distribute the work, you’ll never get on top of your tasks. If you’ve ever found yourself burning the midnight oil making copies, typing letters and performing tasks that you might otherwise be able to delegate, pause and take the time to organize your workload.
Approach business as a team effort. Chances are that the people around you have clearly defined roles, which makes assigning tasks easier, and the work gets completed faster.
Goals Are Better as Realistic
A common problem shared by many workaholics is a tendency to over-commit. You’ll find that telling people upfront that a deadline cannot be met is received much better than promising results and then failing to deliver. Carefully think through big projects before starting them, and create a projected timeline for completing different tasks. That will help you plan an effective strategy and provide clients with realistic ideas about what to expect.
Life is too short to waste every minute sitting behind a desk. Your business and job should be an incredibly important part of your life, but it’s not the only thing. Failure to realize that (and to act upon it) is a recipe for disaster.
What pitfalls of being an workaholic have you experienced? Share your tips with us!
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Can’t agree more, overworking kills productivity and the creativity barometer stays zero until we rest well, to be re-energized.
You forgot to mention ignorance. Workaholics are specialists by necessity and, consequently, often brutally ignorant outside their domain of expertise. As an example, this article.
Unpaid overtime is a non interest paying investment.
Very well-written article! I couldn’t agree more with the points made in this article,
especially about spending time with friends and family.
People who are successful at the office but fail to fulfill family
obligations are still failures in my opinion. Providing for my family as best I can
is important to me, but leave them on the back-burner too long and you may not have a family to provide for.
When I worked on a project team who all pulled really long hours, it was by far the least productive team I ever worked with.
As far as I see it, if you baseline your working day at reasonable hours (e.g. 7.5), then when something really important does come up, you have that much more time to extend your work into. So when the chips are really down you look like a hero.
A good tactic I find is to always go home on time. If there’s something important, then I can fire up the laptop after dinner and the work then will be so much more focussed because I’ve had time to think about it.
i had to learn this the hard way with my first couple jobs (fast food jobs, mcdonalds then taco bell) i always took any work anyone wanted, it had its up sides (i had like 56 hour weeks and as such…a lot of money for my work and age) but the downside was i wasnt sleeping much and regularly was late or tired while working. in each job i only lasted a year and it had poor effects on my school work.
now i try to pace myself a bit more.
In my opinion, working hard & leaving on time is the best way. I can understand occasionally where one might need to stay late, but do it regularly & it becomes the norm, others expect it of you & you expect it of yourself.
Leaving on time requires more discipline, more maturity & ultimately makes you a more balanced person. As a more balanced person you will make better business decisions and be able to ‘see the bigger picture’.
I’m not talking about people who have to hold down several jobs for financial reasons, I’m talking about people who work for the hell of it.