It’s Saturday afternoon and I’ve already spent more than 5 hours working on work—things that could have waited until Monday. So I started to think about it: about work, and its impact on me, my family, friends, hobbies, and time. After some self-reflection, I jotted-down a few questions that I’ll pose to you.
- Do you get more excited about your work than about anything else?
- Do you work in bed? While eating? On weekends? On vacation?
- Do you consistently work more than 40 hours a week?
- Do you talk about work more than anything else?
- Have family and friends stopped asking you to join them for social activities?
- Do you worry about the future even when things are going well?
- Do you get annoyed when people ask you to stop working in order to do something else?
- Has your focus on work put a strain on your family or other relationships?
- Do you think about your work before falling asleep, immediately after waking up, while driving, or during conversations with others?
If you answered “yes” to even a few of those questions, you might be a workaholic!
Being a work addict can be just as damaging to you and those around you as any other addiction. Some might suggest that you need to find “balance” in your life. This may sound good, but I don’t think it is necessarily a healthy approach, either. For example, I’ve seen many people try to compartmentalize their lives into percentages and categories. Should work equate to, say, 60% of your time? Then what about family, your faith, friends, and hobbies? What percentage do they get?
Inevitably, this futile pursuit of some kind of “balanced” life leads to further personal and/or professional frustration. For me, it’s about being the best I can be—no matter whom I’m with, what I’m doing, or when it is.
Although I relapse and fail from time to time, here are a few things that have helped me along the way:
Stop Wasting Time
It happens to all of us. Over time, our lives become filled with unnecessary time-suckers—the people, places, and things that waste your time. Take inventory of your time-wasters and get rid of them!
Use Your Calendar
You never miss or forget business meetings when they’re on your calendar. So why not schedule time with your family, friends, or anyone else that’s important to you? Put them on your calendar so you don’t forget—and to ensure that time doesn’t gets filled with something else, like work!
When you’re with your family and friends, do you invest as much in them as you do in your work? Give your best to every person you’re with and everything you do. Keep enough gas in the tank so you can dedicate the same amount of energy to other things that you do for your work.
Work and life can be serious stuff. So relax, smile, and kick-back already! Channel your inner-child from time-to-time, be silly around your kids, or watch a funny movie. Dust off the golf clubs, read a book, or go fishing. Actively engage in a hobby that allows a brief escape from the monotony of your day-to-day activities. Your busy brain will thank you.
Team win, individuals don’t. Quit trying to do it all yourself. If you work with others, train and develop them. Learn to delegate and follow-up, and start trusting them to do more. Be confident that your family and friends will jump in when needed or asked. When you start to trust others, you might be surprised by the extra time you have to spend on things other than work.
Get a Babysitter
If you have kids, find a good babysitter. Calendar some date nights so you can work on your relationship with your spouse. Marriage is just as demanding as any career, and your family is the most important corporation in life. Take care of them!
This one is the toughest for me. I know what my calendar says and I know what I want to accomplish each day. I’m routine driven. However, work and life events come fast and furious. Be willing to adapt to changing priorities and have contingency plans in place. Embrace change as an opportunity to respond with the best you have to offer.
Live with Purpose
I’m going to go deep here and you may not be able to answer this right away. What is your purpose in life? Marketing icon Joey Reiman has built a global consultancy firm around helping businesses answer this question. He states that “Mission is your what. Vision is your where. Purpose is your why. Why you exist as an organization.” Find your purpose and let it guide your actions and your life. After all, your purpose is why you exist!
Now you have a few steps you can follow so your work and life can more happily coexist. Start exercising a few until they become routine, then add a few more. Your work, family, and friends will all be better for it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go spend some time with the family…