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Healthy Productivity: Five Steps to Combating the Workaholic Mindset

Kick butt at work, without feeling drained.

Workaholic”… “workaholism” …these are two words that have become significant in today’s modern world. They correlate to our addiction to technology and to the fact that it is hard to get away from work. They are two words we don’t want to apply to ourselves because no one wants to be a workaholic, right?

According to an article by the American Psychological Association, workaholism is most strongly connected with negative outcomes in our work life and personal life, and can even result in negatively affecting our organization. Yikes.

It’s easy to think that workaholism yields increased success, productivity, satisfaction, and self-esteem — but really what’s happening is that we are forming a negative connection between our work and the way we value ourselves.

“We found that workaholism was related to the experience of negative discrete emotions (i.e., guilt, anxiety, anger and disappointment) at work and home…”(Clark, 2016)

This is the belief that our brains are formulating: “I’m better if I work harder” or “I like myself more if I work more.” I don’t know about you, but that sort of thinking would wear me out insanely fast.

So HOW do we karate-chop our way through a large workload while still maintaining a healthy mindset about it?

It means being intentional about the way we approach tasks and the way we value ourselves!

And I’ve compiled a quick list for you to try out and implement this week!

Here are five steps to combating the workaholic mindset:

  1. Apply “HIIT” to your work: High-intensity interval training is a workout technique in which you go all-out for bursts of exercise and then follow up with a recovery break. When we apply this HIIT technique to our work, we devote all of our focused energy into a task at hand (no texting breaks, no checking your email or getting distracted) and then follow it up with a period of rest before moving on to the next thing. So focus hard for an hour, then take a 20-minute break, then work hard for another hour…and continue onwards! You’ll find that those working hours are more productive than ever!
  2. TAKE BREAKS: This might sound redundant, but what I mean by “take breaks” is that you really, truly REST during those rest periods! It means you DON’T simultaneously respond to a work email while sipping coffee. Instead, go for a quick walk outside or read a few pages of that novel you’ve been trying to finish for the past decade. Allow your brain to rest and be still.
  3. Reflect and Assess: The “workaholic mindset” means you are approaching your workload with a “just get through it and bust it out” approach that requires constant energy. To combat it, set aside some time either once a week or once a month to reflect upon the work you have completed and the outcomes of it. Maybe during this time, you realize that you only went out on one date with your best friend, or you never got to make it to that movie release, or you still haven’t finished that book (huge book nerd here, if you haven’t already caught on). Now is the time for you to assess what needs to change — whether it’s the way you set your schedule or the amount of work you take on — and then figure out a new plan!
  4. Respect Your Strengths (and Weaknesses): We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. Companies need different people who are good at different things. Maybe you are GREAT at brainstorming new ideas for projects, but you struggle with implementing them. So don’t take on that extra project requiring a ton of legwork to get it up and going — instead, scope out tasks that need your brainstorming skills (if you need the extra work), OR channel your time into the tasks already at hand. Play up your strengths, and be confident that you are valuable for who you are!
  5. Know When to Turn Your Brain Off: You kicked butt at work, so now it’s time to go home and turn your brain off of “work mode.” Use this time to refuel and get refreshed, so that tomorrow you have new energy to get stuff done — and the mental capacity to do it!

With these intentional steps, you’ll soon see an increase in productivity and a decrease in that feeling of being drained! You DON’T have to sign up for that workaholic mindset in order to kick butt during your days! Remember that you are valuable, so take care of yourself and appreciate yourself!

Clark, M.A. (2016). Workaholism: it’s not just long hours on the job. Psychological Science Agenda. Retrieved from
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