7 Signs You Might be a Workaholic

  • March 16, 2009 by Corbett Barr
  • 7 Comments
The workaholic

photo by herval

We’ve all been through times where some deadline keeps us working late into the night. It’s a normal part of being ambitious. For some, however, working becomes an addiction. For those people, there’s always something at work that deserves more attention than the rest of life. The basic definition of “workaholic” is someone who works compulsively at the expense of other pursuits. Are you one of those people? How can you tell if you are?

Here are 7 signs that indicate you might be a workaholic:

You’re often the first in and last to leave the office

If you arrive before and leave after everyone else on a regular basis, you have to as yourself why. Is it because you’re slower than everyone else doing the same job? Do you have more work to do than everyone else? Do you feel more dedicated to the cause then your coworkers? In any case, this is a good indicator that you might be a workaholic.

You frequently eat meals at your desk

If you can’t take 30 minutes to grab a meal away from your desk, you might be addicted to working. The situation is even worse if you eat more than one meal per day at your desk.

You’re usually late for evening engagements

Do you make dinner plans with what you thought was enough buffer time to make it from work, only to show up late anyways? Do your friends purposefully tell you that reservations are a half-hour earlier than they really are, just to get you there on time?

Your boss is on speed dial

OK, so this doesn’t necessarily apply to people who work remotely or who travel a lot. They probably need to be calling the boss every day. For the rest of you who work at an office, this is a strong sign of being a workaholic. When you leave the office, do you really need to be talking with your boss on the phone? Can’t it wait until the workday?

Work keeps you awake at night

Work can be stressful for anyone. If it keeps you awake at night on a regular basis, the stress levels may have crossed a line. The links between stress and your health are well established. If you’re letting work ruin your health, there’s a good chance your life is out of balance.

Your spouse or significant other complains that you work too much

Chances are, you chose to be with this person for some good reasons. Beware that being a workaholic is a leading cause of divorce.

You’re not in shape like you wish you were

There’s not much in life more important than your health. If you can’t seem to get to the gym or outside for some activity during the day, you might want to question your priorities.

You work while on vacation

You finally made all the arrangements and broke the news to your boss that you’d be gone for a week. Did you also bring your computer and tell everyone that you’d be reachable via email? Would the world end if you were out of touch for one week?. This is a big indicator that work is taking over your life. It’s a shame that it’s becoming so common.

We’ll tackle ways to break the cycle of workaholism in a separate post. Let us know if you have any other good signs of being a workaholic in the comments!

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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ashley November 20, 2010 at 6:20 am

I know a few workaholics and they often cancel plans because something came up at work that could have been taken care of by someone else or even better could have waited until the following day. My husband did this on our anniversary and it wasnt until about 2 months later that he finally took me out to celebrate our anniversary but he was constantly checking his phone and he wouldnt go to places where he couldnt get cell phone service. When I mentioned it to him he got defensive and denied the behavior then made excuses for it like ” if I don’t do it who will” ” they need me” ” I’m the only one who knows how to do it” “i’m the best employee they have” or my favorite one ” we could use the money”. Any suggestions on how to stop this behavior?

Dean April 6, 2011 at 8:34 pm

What about people starting business? I assuming that being a business owner at the startup of your company might take a lot of your time. Does this apply to them as well? Should they be keeping themselves in check, even while they’re trying to get the ball rolling?

Corbett April 6, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Hey Dean, great question. You’re right about starting a business, it can be a LOT of work. There’s no question that you’ll need to work some long hours to get a new venture off the ground.

I do think that entrepreneurs can work too much however. I’ve met (and worked with) some entrepreneurs who lose all sense of reality and lose creativity from the blinders they put on. It’s a balance for sure, but I’m a big believer that enjoying life outside of work makes you more effective at work.

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