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5 Must-Dos for Workaholics

5 Must-Dos for Workaholics

There are thousands of books on personal development: how to aim higher and fulfill your potential, how to succeed through hard work, how to never give up. The list goes on. But what happens when you fail to apply these rules to your life and you are only satisfied when you are busy? You are trapped in a 24/7 cycle of stressful work and struggle to get more from life.

Welcome to the new trend that has engulfed approximately 30% of the working population: workaholism! This phenomenon is described as the state of being addicted to work and your professional career.

Definitions given by psychologists, psychiatrists, or coaches in the field of work-addiction vary but all come to the same conclusion: it’s not just unbeneficial, but actually toxic. A recent study[1] estimating the prevalence of overworking, assumes that workaholism involves thinking about work, even during leisure time. There is no typical profile of the workaholic, but it seems to entail the same negative effects as any other addiction: sleep problems, weight gain, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.

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How do high performance and workaholism relate?

Well, they don’t. Workaholism is not about passion—it’s not even about making money. The driving force behind workaholism is a permanent conflict with yourself and a feeling of guilt if you are not working. You are never satisfied. There is always one more little task to do, one more detail to check and that’s what makes high performance impossible to achieve. Feeling depressed and not being able to detach from work leads to your brain under-functioning overall.

In Japan, workaholism is associated to karoshi, a term introduced in 1995 which describes death or serious circulatory system diseases caused by overworking (more than 65h/week for 4 weeks). A study regarding countries with the most workaholics placed Japan in first place, Australia in second and South Africa in third. The U.S.A was ranked 5th. It seems the workaholism virus evolves fast; if you feel any workaholism tendencies in your daily routine, take a step back and attempt to reflect.

How to Transform Your Busyness Into Productivity

By following these simple steps, your work performance can be improved while simultaneously keeping workaholism at bay. Your main aim should be to reconnect to your true self, enabling you to succeed in both your personal and professional life.

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1. Face thyself.

This is the most important step to start with. Don’t mistake passion with addiction and don’t be afraid to analyse yourself objectively. Stop doubting yourself and your potential!

2. Set priorities.

Actions become habits. So set up and follow your priorities until they become second nature. Focus on your life values. Ask yourself what’s most important to you—family, health, peace of mind, money—and put it on a paper. Always keep that in mind and act accordingly.

3. Set healthy boundaries.

Saying yes can allow opportunities to arise, but sometimes saying no can lead to the right possibilities for you. Learn when to stop. Allow yourself to be flexible by converting your mindset from “only too much is enough” to “less is more.” Give work a break and embrace your need for human connection and physical activity.

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4. Take a day off.

It’s time to see “leave your comfort zone” from a different perspective—by emptying your mind. Most workaholics have difficulty enjoying free time as they feel guilty for not working. What they don’t know is that productivity comes only when energy is handled properly. Choose quality over quantity and manage your stress and time wisely.

5. Be open to others’ ideas.

The “Looking-glass self” theory states that our self-image is shaped by what we believe others think of us. Sometimes, what we believe others think of us does not match up with their actual impression of us. This discrepancy can lead you in the wrong direction. That’s why we have to allow others to analyze our actions and to accept the advice and feedback provided. Talk to your family and friends about your goals, about your actions, and about your habits. Their answers might surprise you as well as have great benefits for your personal development.

6. Consider asking for professional help.

Overworking is not a new topic among professional coaches. Some of them associate this term with typical entrepreneurial behaviour. Various coaches share success stories on how they supported others fight against work-addiction or even their own journey to find a healthy balance. Learning from someone with a high level of expertise and integrity might be one of the best things to do. It is essential to choose the guidance which is right for you. Make sure your coach is professionally certified and trustworthy; a great coach will monitor your progress and empower you to develop professionally as well as and personally.

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If you acknowledge that overworking has a negative impact on your career, take the matter seriously. Whether you consider asking for a professional coach’s help, or to follow the other aforementioned steps, start making a change. Make sure you’re on the right track to success by disowning unhealthy habits in your life. You’re in charge of your life!

Featured photo credit: Stokpic.com via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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The power of habit

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to make a reminder works for you

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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