I’m Aarti, and I’m a workaholic.
Most people who know me personally know that when I get stressed, the only way I see myself getting out of that stress is by working through it- and I mean that quite literally. This was something my sister pointed out to me just this last weekend, and so I decided to write about it. A short guide to get out of this rut for myself and others like me.
Working means that I’ll sit at a desk with my computer out for hours and hours and hours on end, and I won’t let myself get up, even if I have dry eyes and my head kind of hurts and I’m too tired to do anything else.
Hard work is often thought about in terms of the amount of time you spend doing something. But if you spend 11 hours at your desk without a break and only around 5 or so of these 11 hours are used for actual work, then you can’t really say that you spent 11 hours doing work.
This cycle of spending hours of designated work time (doing something that isn’t really work) occurs for most of us. Given how necessary the internet is for doing research among other things, its also important to account for how distracting the internet can be. When you’re stressed, it’s so easy to find an excuse to do literally anything else when you can look up an entertaining video within a few seconds, log into your social media and chat away with people you care about. But when you waste working time, and then keep spending more time “working” this exact same way, you lose time that you could use to do the other things you enjoy: biking or hiking, catching up with an old friend over cups of hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows, journaling, practicing photography or spending time with family, among other things.
This is how your workload gets to be overwhelming, and this is really sad because many of us have jobs that we start out being really passionate about, but when the cycle of work seems to never end, we quickly stop being passionate about the good work we might be doing. This is how you become a workaholic: someone who spends hours on end without break-time even though they are aware of the negative consequences on their mental and even physical health.
So, how do you stop?
Even though I’m not always able to put this into practice, I’ve always believed that if I’m going to spend time doing something, I should be able to spend it productively. So my first tip to break out of the habits of a workaholic would be to really pay attention to how long you are able to give something 100% of your attention. For me, that usually is about 15 minutes, unless I’m really enjoying what I’m doing. If yours is 30 minutes, spend exactly 30 minutes working on something with your full attention. Put your phone on airplane mode, turn off your computer if you don’t require it, or log out of Facebook and other social media you have open. Put on a timer for 30 minutes, decide on a couple of things you want to accomplish during that time, and get them done. Then, after 30 minutes of hard work, reward yourself with 15 minutes of doing something you actually want to do. Then get back to work.
Doing this accomplishes four things: firstly, you get your work done. Secondly, you’ll realize that because you set goals and worked towards them without distractions, it’ll take you less time to finish your work. Thirdly, because of this, you’ll be able to spend less total time working and lastly, because of this, you’ll be able to spend most of your time doing the other things you love while still giving your professional work your due diligence.
I’ll end this post by telling y’all something that I always like to tell myself when I feel stressed out: if you don’t love what you do, it’s probably not worth your time to do it. This goes for both work time as well as free time. If you don’t love the work that you do professionally because you spend too much time staring at your work, then that’s a sign that you need to decrease the amount of time you spend just staring at your work, and increase the amount of quality time that you spend doing work.
Then, treat yourself to some quality time doing something else that you love.
Did you like my post? Or, did you think that I missed something or that something could be made better? Let me know down in the comments!
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