There are a lot of names your co-workers could call you, but workaholic isn’t one of them. That’s not right.
Just because you do almost no work doesn’t mean that you’re not a workaholic. You’re simply a workaholic when it comes to not working. Put another way, no amount of work is too much if it will make it possible for you to not do any real work at all.
So, if your crazy, overachieving manager arrives at work at 5 a.m. to find you using a Ditch Witch to tunnel through the office floor and escape the day’s assignments, you have the perfect explanation: You’re a workaholic.
I was hard at work avoiding work when I came across “Are You A Workaholic? How to Tell and What To Do About It,” a recent Kathy Caprino joint on the Forbes website.
To officially be considered a workaholic requires “putting in four hours of unpaid overtime per week, and spending another four hours just thinking about work.” The unpaid overtime might be a stretch in your case. You come in so late and leave so early that you easily have eight hours of paid undertime every day. As for thinking about work, you qualify easily. You’re always thinking about work and how you can avoid it.
In her article, Caprino leaves most of the heavy lifting to Dr. Ross Nelson, a licensed clinical psychologist. Admitting that the American Psychology Association doesn’t recognize workaholism as a clinical condition — obviously, the APA does not have enough workaholics in its membership to get it done — Dr. Nelson sees three “primary indicators”:
One positive consequence of working more is that you will be promoted more and paid more and, eventually, enter senior management, where, by definition, you’ll have zero work to do.
You would consider this good news, but you have sympathy for those highly motivated senior managers. It’s torture for a workaholic to have nothing to do but walk around all day looking managerial.
Receiving a scorching performance review and landing in a one-week probationary period probably qualifies as “internal pressure,” but you really shouldn’t change the way you do — or don’t — work. Goof-offs like you are vital to company morale. After all, it’s your puny performance that makes everyone else feel like they’re doing a really good job.
Any discussion of workaholism must consider what to do if your company treats the condition as a “badge of honor.” Should you be unlucky enough to work in such a soul-crushing culture, there are three ways Dr. Nelson says you can fight the power:
Scheduling “daily recreational activities” is another way you can take the pressure off. Developing a hobby is a good way to do this. Installing electrical power lines is an excellent hobby, but this pastime is dangerous and could require you to go outside.
I recommend home brewing at work. Make room in your cubical for a 200-gallon brew pot, a couple of miles of copper tubing and a ton or two of hops. Let the fumes fill the office and soon your cube will be full of workaholics — and alcoholics, too.
It can be somewhat disruptive, but you won’t care. You’ll be passed out under your desk, completely blotto — a living example of a workaholic cured.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at firstname.lastname@example.org.