Being a Workaholic versus Working Long Hours

By Carol Campbell
Published on: March 23, 2018

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“Perfection is the enemy of progress”    Winston Churchill

Last week, I talked about how senior management executives have gotten to the point in their career that they get enough sleep in order to be productive and at their best. This week, I just want to differentiate between working long hours and being a workaholic – two distinctly separate situations.

People who work long hours (and don’t we all, at some point during each month – deadlines, trade shows, etc. But then there are down times when we aren’t burning the midnight oil) generally get finished for the day and start to unwind. They take their mind off of work and enjoy their non-work hours. These people generally feel fulfilled and when it’s time for bed, fall asleep easily.

Workaholics struggle psychologically to break away from their work. They go on and on and on, never completely satisfied with their output, which leads to stress, sleep problems, and eventually depression. Stress levels continue to build, which wears down the body – symptoms include higher blood pressure, increased stress hormones, etc.

One of the most common excuses I’ve heard over my career from workaholics is that they love their job. But, really, are the migraines and obsessive behavior patterns acceptable? I think this is where effective management comes into play – if you see a colleague working obsessively, just for the sake of working, you probably should take them aside and have a word with them. Maybe they don’t feel like they have earned their current ‘title’ or ‘job responsibility’ and are coping by pumping out mindless ‘work’. Whatever the case, you should try to encourage them to gain control over their work behavior and begin to accept that not everything can get done in one day, that it’s okay to produce less work – the goal should be to produce effective work. Let them know they’ll feel better, and be a better team member if they pace themselves and gain perspective about being efficient and effective at the same time.


Carol Campbell

Carol Campbell

Carol Campbell is the Managing Director of the Technology Insider Group, Publisher of Technology Designer Magazine, and Executive Director of the Women in Consumer Technology association. She is a publishing, marketing and women’s thought leadership executive with a history of offering outstanding presentation, communication and cross-cultural team management skills.

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