How Workaholics Kill Themselves and Their Company
Photo by Kyle Hanson on Unsplash
Workaholics are costing America trillions of dollars
Do you have dreams about your coworkers and managers?
Have your replaced meals with coffee?
Is it too long to remember the last time you went to the gym?
If you said yes to any one of them, let me know. I’ll pray for you 🙏
I was lucky to stop before burnout.
I’ve obsessed about work at various points in my life. I even do it now — but I’m not addicted to it. Unlike workaholics.
Instagram and “The Grind” convinced me that it’s the only path to success. I changed my WhatsApp status to “Proud Workaholic.”
Looking back, I can’t help but think how stupid I was.
Workaholics are not the people who you admire.
To prove this, let me first tell you who’s not a workaholic.
Tim started a business. He loves his work. Sometimes he gets lost in his work and doesn’t remember the time. Yet he comes back to make time for his family and friends. Tim is not a workaholic.
John started a business. He works every weekend — he feels awful to skip even one of them. He’s always checking emails at the dinner table. He’s replying to employees on his bed. There’s always another phone call to take. And there’s always something which can’t wait till Monday. John is a workaholic.
What makes someone a workaholic is an addiction to work without reason. They live to work. They can’t stand up in their own eyes if they don’t put in an obnoxious number of hours in.
They work to work, not to achieve.
And thanks to our hustle culture, more people are joining this club.
What’s wrong with workaholics, you ask?
Isn’t it the type of employee every company wants?
Self-Worth = Number of Hours Worked
Workaholism has become a badge of honor for most people in most companies.
We put the 4-hour sleep-day on a pedestal. People brag about how less sleep they get.
But beware of such people. They are the ones who crash hard. Don’t idolize them, pray for them to have a good night’s sleep.
Company culture is all about who you hire, fire, and promote. If it values people who work late nights and weekends, it promotes the same behavior in others.
Employees think they’ve to do the same to be promoted or they don’t have a chance. They feel guilty of not working long enough or hard enough. Because who gets a promotion by only working the required number of hours?
On top of this, they start to feel entitled to more benefits since they’re putting in extra hours. A double loss for the company.
Don’t make workaholics heroes. You don’t need them. You need creative people who can sustain high output for a long time.
Quality > Quantity
Even kids know this. But the workaholics don’t.
There are two principles I found the most helpful when it comes to productivity:
Pareto’s Law — 80% of results come from 20% of the effort. All tasks are not created equal.
Parkinson’s Law — The work tends to fill the time assigned to it. This means you can get a task done in a fraction of the time you think it will take.
When you limit the amount of time you have (Parkinson), you’re forced to prioritize (Pareto). And you achieve more in less time.
Why? Because constraints enforce creativity.
Dorian Yates worked out 4 days a week to train for Mr. Olympia. His counterparts trained at least every day (sometimes twice a day ). He pushed himself hard, focused on quality reps, and got out of the gym sooner than anybody else. Look at his results.
Accomplishing more in less time is possible. It’s not laziness, it’s efficiency.
Achieve More > Do More
Workaholics shift the focus of the company from achieving more to doing more.
More work doesn’t mean more results. It means more work.
And it is especially true for knowledge and creative workers
A good engineer isn’t the one who writes the most lines of code. It’s the one who omits the most. The same goes for writers.
You can’t judge everyone by their input. But you can judge them on the output.
Takeaway: If you judge everyone on how long they work and not what they produce, you’ve set your company for failure.
Brute Force Doesn’t Make Up for Intellectual Laziness
Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it — Henry Ford
Great work involves a lot of thinking and doing. The workaholics forget the first part.
They aim to out-think others by going to the office. But creativity cannot be replaced by busyness. It’s impossible.
To have good ideas, people need to step away from work. You need to have diverse experiences to link together ideas from different domains. This idea sex, as James Altucher calls it, is the birth of innovation.
Part of the reason why people attack problems with long hours is that it’s easy. Nobody wants to ‘think’. They want to show others that they’re productive by being busy.
People Who Are Interesting Outside Work Perform Better
Today as always, men fall into two groups: slaves and free men. Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar.
Einstein had a job as a patent clerk, 6 days a week. He still wrote his papers on special relativity. How? Because what most people did in a day, he did in 2 hours.
People need to have something to lift their spirits. They need to look forward to something interesting after work.
A soccer game, a side business to work on, or a date with their partner. Anything.
The people who have stuff going on in their lives are the ones who are the most productive. They’re always looking for ways to get things done. To move the needle.
As the saying goes — If you need to get something done, ask the busiest person you know.
You know this, too. Think about the last time you had to rush somewhere after work. How did you manage to wind up work and get out early?
If you know you’ll work till late at night, you’ll slack off the whole day. Remember Parkinson’s Law.
I’ve seen many workaholics who come to the office at 11 but don’t get to work till lunch. They’re ‘working’ on getting coffee, getting updates (aka chatting) from colleagues, and going through emails.
Don’t be that person. Get in, get the work done, and get out.
I write for 1–2 hours in the morning and then start working on my job. When I’ve shut the work off, I don’t check Slack or emails. I get back to working on my business. Weekends are dedicated to writing and growing my side hustle.
I have something to do outside of work. This pushes me to find creative ways to get the job done faster.
If you’re a workaholic, change your ways before your ways change you. You’ll achieve more and be happier.
If you know someone like this, share these ideas with them.
And if you see them at the workplace, run!
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