Addicted to work
I have an addiction to work.
I went in today (1/13/18) for what should have been ~1 hour, instead I stayed for 3.75 hours. When does working become too much of your life? I wouldn’t call myself a workaholic necessarily but it made me think back throughout my IT career to assess my own declaration.
Many years ago I worked for an IT sweatshop that only required 40 hours a week but had an expectation of much more. A 50 hour week wasn’t considered long enough; the norm for me was 60–70. The product for the company was software for managed healthcare companies. The code was a massive pile of spaghetti by which to find your piece and make the change. Incentive was given for overtime pay: 40–45 hours gets time and a half, 45–50 a different hourly “bonus”, 50 and above was close to double overtime pay. Money talks loudly and clearly. Not bad when you’re raising a family, bad for health and relationship reasons. Either way, I was in for 60+ hours religiously and didn’t complain about the money but rarely saw my kids. That’s the first realization that I was going down a bad path. I remember my kids asking if they could come with me. The memory still hurts.
Next job took me to an aircraft crash-damage facility for a government contracting company. For a while I was the only IT person on site and, to my recollection, never clocked less than 45 hours on a slow week. Eventually I was aided by some interns and another full time person. But because I was solely responsible for it all, I got stuck in the rut of thinking everything had to be done “now” and sometimes wouldn’t leave until late into the night. This also took a hard toll on my kids and was pretty much the backbreaker for my then marriage.
Fast forward 3 jobs later and I still find myself feeling the need to work on my days off. I’ve bitched about work/life balance for each company I’ve worked for when it’s been me the whole time. I either feel like I’m falling behind on deliverables or simply don’t trust those I work with to get tasks done…really it’s both.
Although taking time off puts us immediately behind with projects, it’s still necessary. Every company encourages you to take time off but on their terms which aids in causing us all to be workaholics. If we can’t take our vacation time, we’re probably at the office anyway making us by default tethered to our cubicles. In other words, we are the ones responsible for our own schedules for work and play. Yes, we have to plan time off in spots where projects won’t suffer and we have coverage from our colleagues. But I don’t trust that anyone really loses sight of what’s waiting for us upon return from vacation. Thus when we get back, we step right back into over 40 hours to catch up putting us back to the workaholic state of being.
Being true to the truth, I’m disappointed in myself for allowing this to take over my life and down time. Work/Life balance tilted heavily towards work without yielding enough “John time”. This is a dilemma that causes physical and psychological problem in different ways for all of us. Me…I’d say it’s more psychological. I felt compelled to go. I needed to go. Making excuses to leave home and go to a place I don’t want to be (and shouldn’t be on a day off) gives me cause for concern regarding my priorities. But it’s not enough of a concern to stop me. Pity. After writing this now I’m compelled to go back to the office and do some more “catching up” as if 3.75 hours wasn’t enough.
If you’d like to take a hard look at yourself, the links below might be an eye-opener into your work habits and yourself:
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