workaholic? moi?

Posted on July 6, 2007


workaholicWho’s a workaholic? It certainly wouldn’t be me, nor you…would it?

Ha! Remember the Eighties, where you were supposed to be a proud workaholic, in your little blue suit and tie? That was back before we got lives. Or brains, I think. Now it’s more fashionable to have a balanced life, and thank god for that. Just be sure you walk the talk (or rest the talk in a hammock, as the case may be).

In a society where time (ie labour) is money, and Corporate HQ often sees labour as a cost sink rather than a precondition for doing business, the temptation to overclock your people is both strong and pervasive. I’ve been pulled aside by regional managers whose bonuses depended on keeping overtime down and told point-blank that if I reported any overtime I would be fired, while they also knew quite well that the job required more than the scheduled hours. These, fortunately, are people who lost their careers (or at least their jobs) when HQ found out. Here they’d been trying to make things better for their employees, only to find that the regional managers were in some cases sabotaging their attempts to bring work/life balance.

But it was so easy, once I started, to let the hours creep up. I could make things better. I could get things just the way I wanted. If I only put in a little more time. A little more time. A little bit more.

The week I was diagnosed with cancer I pulled 93 hours, 40 of them after the diagnosis.

Let me just say that cancer, whatever its negative qualities, has a marvelous way of concentrating the mind. It was twelve months before I returned to work, and I didn’t begrudge a moment of it. Several times I fielded 5am phonecalls from collegues whose partners had not shown up for work, and it was a great relief to be able to say, “Sorry, I’m not going to be able to work it. I have cancer.” There’s not really any comeback a for-profit corporation can make to that which is what you might describe as sane.

Over at ThisTimeThisSpace (on the blogroll!) she’s posted a great article on how to determine if you’re a workaholic, complete with some hard numbers and a few even harder questions you need to ask. Consider your answers to those a Benchmark and record them; then, re-test yourself in a few months. Check yourself out and read on to the balancing strategies she’s listed and resources she’s supplied.

One more thing to do:

Enjoy the weekend!

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