Workaholism stems from feelings of anxiety, guilt, and stress. It is not likely driven by a profound fulfilment of answering emails. The world doesn’t end with you, but your workday does. This is how you get rid of workaholism. Make time for yourself, set hourly limits, and learn to tell your bosses that you have too much on your plate.
1. Reserve mornings for yourself.
Everybody needs time to themselves—everyone. Giving yourself even an hour of time to wake up at your own pace helps to orient your mind for the rest of the day. That hour comes with no strings attached: emails, texts, calls, reminders, and schedules do not feature in your morning ritual. Read a book, watch television, finish a movie from the previous night, play games, walk your dog, write in a journal, or…
2. Exercise once per day.
Exercise releases endorphins into your bloodstream, which improve your mood. The medical world has know this for a long time, yet many people don’t exercise because they believe that they don’t have the time to do it. That’s incorrect. Investing 30 minutes into daily exercise will put you in a better mood, and that better mood will let you make better decisions about your lifestyle. Invest in your mental health. Exercising helps you to recharge for the day to come.
3. Turn off your phone after work.
Mobile technology lets us stay in touch for twenty-four hours of every day, but this doesn’t help anyone recharge for the next one. Resist reading work-related emails after you end your workday. Most issues can wait until the next day. Most people don’t look at their work messages after hours anyway, so the next morning will be the earliest time that they’ll see your responses. Be realistic about your approach!
4. Reserve time for social calls.
Even introverts need to hang out with others now and again! You can’t spend all of your time in solitude. Seeing other people goes hand in hand with reserving time for yourself after work. Don’t work 12 or 15-hour days. Catch up with an old friend over dinner, or go to see a new movie with somebody. Nothing wrong with going to see a movie by yourself either! The world does not end with your absence from the workspace. Getting rid of workaholism requires proper time management.
5. Set an hourly work limit.
You can’t work forever at the same level of quality. Putting in eight hours of high-quality performance trumps 12 hours of mediocre work any day of the week. You’ll experience a pattern of diminishing returns on the time you log after a certain point.
Find that daily threshold and quit working after reaching it for the day. Many of us hit this slump at around 3 in the afternoon on a regular nine-to-five schedule, but employers generally expect you to put in at least eight every day. There’s always coffee or tea to get you through that last part.
6. Limit your project count.
You can’t do everything, even if you try. Learn when to say, “I have too much on my plate.” Other people exist in your workplace that can step up to lift some of the burden from your shoulders. Any good boss will recognize when hard workers push back a little. They understand that you’ll grow into tougher roles eventually, but everyone has limits. They won’t fault you for trying.
Offer to work collaboratively if nobody else volunteers to take on an entirely new project. You can also act as a mentor for other employees who might be too nervous to accept new assignments. Think outside the box—other options do exist.
7. Delegate tasks to others.
Leading a half-dozen projects doesn’t mean that you need to take care of the small details for every single assignment. You can handle the broad strokes, such as strategy, team building, management, crisis aversion, content creation, and crunching numbers.
You don’t need to worry about every email that comes your way, nor should you waste your time sifting through those obnoxious email chains that never seem to solve anything. Let others take care of the little things. They don’t even need to work directly under you to take on the task!
Ask co-workers about sharing the load, or saving their thoughts for a single coherent email that you can answer in due course. Work with your boss or supervisor for 15 minutes to figure out which tasks you can delegate to other people.
You’ll need to show a little trust here. Not everyone can do your job—that’s true—but there are enough capable people in most organizations to help out with certain miscellaneous tasks. Work with them to streamline arduous administrative processes, cut through red tape, or to cut short things that waste time (like company meetings). Alternatively, you can create instructions for people to perform recurring tasks or procedures that require a bit of know-how and responsibility. Put some kind of system into place that frees up your time.
8. Does doing everything help?
Assess how much value you add to your organization by doing everything. Could your time be spent in a better way? It probably could. Analyzing reports and coming up with out-of-the-box solutions for your organization’s problems becomes significantly more difficult without time to rest, to recharge, and to focus on your top priorities.
Create a list of your top three or five priorities for work. Stop doing a task if it doesn’t bring you closer to achieving one of them. People can figure out how to fix the office printer on their own.
9. Disavow perfectionism.
You need to get things done rather than perfecting a small number of projects. Academic institutions train students to seek perfection, but that doesn’t reflect reality in most work places. Accept that some or all of your work contains flaws. Do your work to achieve something rather than to please someone.
Nobody exudes perfection, which is why many companies have boards of investors or executive teams comprised of several people. Do a good job and then move on once you’ve invested a reasonable amount of time and effort. You can always hand off things to others if you think that your work needs more polish. Fresh eyes can improve your work in a fraction of the time it will take you.
That’s how to get rid of workaholism. Reserve time for yourself, exercise daily, unplug yourself from communication devices, limit your projects, and seek to achieve rather than to perfect. We overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a year. Limit what you do in a day—do it with speed and purpose—and you’ll find that you can achieve more in a year.