12 Steps for Recovering Workaholics

Hi, I'm Stephanie, and I'm a workaholic.  It's been 6 months since my last workaholic episode. I'm actually a recovering workaholic. 

I will always work hard and create work that I'm proud to put my name on, but what I've learned is that if I work all the time, the quality of my work suffers, I have a "baditude", I'm tough to be around, and I neglect everything else in my life that's important to me.  In my recovery, I focus on creating space for work AND for my relationships and health.

Here are 12 steps every recovering workaholic should follow:

1. Schedule Time for Family & Friends

If you don't schedule it, it isn't real and you probably won't make time for it.  Make this time quality time - put down the phone and savor the experiences with the people you love.

2. Do What You Say You're Going to Do

Follow through on your commitments, both work and personal.  If you make a date with a friend, don't bail to "work late".  If you have a deadline, see it through.  Enough said.  (Note: Over committing yourself goes hand in hand with this - see #9 below)

3. Take Care of Yourself

Take time to recharge your batteries.  Get a massage, spend 10 minutes in meditation, grab coffee with a friend - whatever feeds your soul, make a habit of doing it often.

4. Sleep Tight

Aim for 8 hours of sleep a night and stick to a consistent bedtime and wake time schedule.

5. Learn to Prioritize

Identify the roles in your life that are important to you (example: employee, wife, mother, student, volunteer, mentor, etc.) - select no more than 5 roles.  Create a role statement for each role: As (role), I will (extraordinary/high impact outcome) through (activities).  Align your day-to-day with these role statements so you're always doing the things that are important to you.

6. Take Time Off

Working 24/7 only leads to you being drained and ineffective.  Take at least 1 day a week off, every week.  Disconnecting at night is really valuable too - commit to several nights a week off, if you can't do every night.

7. Redefine Success

What does success REALLY mean to you?  Get really specific - what does it feel like?  What does it look like?  It’s okay to want a prestigious job, a family, a white-picket fence around a big house, and a flashy car.  It’s also okay to NOT want those things.  Put your time and energy toward what’s important TO YOU.

8. Take Breaks

Research suggests that working long hours DECREASES productivity.  Schedule time away from your desk during the workday.  Even 5 or 10 minute breaks work wonders to refresh and provide renewed mental clarity, making your work even better.

9. Set Clear Expectations

Stepping back may require a heart to heart with your boss, coworkers, and the important people in your life.  Set clear work hours, reasonable deadlines, and realistic commitments. Don't overcommit yourself.  If these conversations are tough, reiterate that burnt out = ineffective, and you are still committed to doing a kick ass job.

10. Delegate!

Remember you don't have to do it all yourself.  Ask for help from coworkers or hire out tasks to free up your time.

11. Find hobbies

Fill the gaps that you used to spend working with fun hobbies - take up running, read a novel, become a wine aficionado - whatever keeps you happy and engaged.

12. Laugh

Stop being so gosh-darn serious all the time.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  It makes you pretty dull, too.

Are you a recovering workaholic?  What step SCREAMS at you to implement?