“There aren’t enough hours in the day.” …The catchcry for the busy professional who laments the fact that if it were possible to cram more hours into a day, he or she would make it so. When will the “crazy busy” (workaholic) lifestyle give way to a more “sane” way of being? If you were to ask most people to answer this question, the likely response would be “perhaps never”. Or, you may hear complete denial regarding the reality of life spinning out of control.
Is it possible to completely unplug from work and business once the working day is over? Are you able to enjoy a vacation without thinking about the pile of work or unanswered emails that will invariably require an “immediate” response? Unless you have a colleague or team who can manage some of your workload in your absence, or clients who can wait until you return, or are in a unique situation that allows you to fully switch off, chances are that your vacation bliss will be short-lived and overwhelm will rule again upon your return.
There are several reasons that an “out of control” workaholic state has become the acceptable norm in many parts of the world.
First, technology has changed everything. Forever. While there is little doubt our communication has been enhanced by the expediency of access, the ease of use breeds “excess”, for example, excessive demand for “instantaneous” response to business emails or calls at any hour of the day or night…or on vacation. In addition, many of us cannot help ourselves. We either feel obligated to respond, or guilty if we don’t…
Which brings me to my next point:
Many of us have become addicted to “busyness”. We are unable to stop working, doing, driving ourselves towards a finish line that doesn’t exist, filling our heads with workplace drama, suffering from sleep deprivation because our brains are on overdrive, and worst of all, depriving ourselves of special moments with our children and those closest to us. In short, as Dr. Christiana Nothrup says: “We are conditioned to believe that being busy equates to being good, worthy, and successful.”
Thirdly, the concept of “work-life balance” has been re-defined as a myth or a concept that is often scoffed at; now considered to be unattainable. Our personal and professional lives have become inexorably intertwined as the boundaries become increasingly blurred. Workaholism is impacting family dynamics, straining relationships and creating unprecedented stress when one partner is unable to disengage from the demands of their vocation. The divorce rate in relationships where at least one person is classified as a workaholic is 55% and work addiction has been described as perhaps “the best-dressed mental health problem” of them all.”
Parkinson’s Law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. In other words, although time is “finite”, we can choose to make it “expand”. When it comes to our working day, many of us are conveniently adhering to, and taking liberty with Parkinson’s Law, to the detriment of everything else.
Sadly, the desire to push ourselves while operating at lightning speed can have deleterious consequences for our health, relationships and careers. The pursuit of “having it all, doing it all and achieving it all” continues to be celebrated as the ideal way of being, and our ability to get off the crazy busy treadmill seems even more elusive, unless we experience an earth-shattering, life-altering “aha” moment or event that causes us to dramatically change our perspective and consequently, our priorities.