Our culture celebrates the idea of the workaholic. We hear about people burning the midnight oil. They pull all-nighters and sleep at the office. It’s considered a badge of honor to kill yourself over a project. No amount of work is too much work.
Not only is this workaholism unnecessary, it’s stupid. Working more doesn’t mean you care more or get more done. It just means you work more.
Workaholics make the people who don’t stay late feel inadequate for “merely” working reasonable hours. That leads to guilt and poor morale all around. Plus, it leads to an ass-in-seat mentality—people stay late out of obligation, even if they aren’t really being productive.
There has been several times in my career where I fell into this cycle working countless nights and weekends. Looking back a lot of what drives workaholism is insecurity in your work and approval from your peers. When you fall into the cycle of workaholism it always takes far longer to make creative decisions, think critically and produce exceptional work. In my personal experience, after putting in the long hours any ground I gained was usually lost the following day or week as I struggled with not having enough downtime for my mind to be fresh.
There is a distinct difference from being a workaholic and pulling the very rare all-nighter in an effort to sprint towards a deadline. One will leave you constantly trying to make up for lost productivity with endless hours and the other gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment in launching a project.
Over the last few years I have actively worked at shifting mindset from working around the clock to working with intense focus and productivity. As a result I have been able to accomplish more that I am proud of, and more importantly I have been able to spend far more time with family enjoying life.