Workaholism can be a real condition

The culture of excessive work is rife; in many cases, we are conditioned to view long hours and ongoing tiredness as indicators of success. The takeaway is that if you live and breathe work, the benefits will be thrilling and enormous.

People who subscribe to the pernicious ideology of the overwork culture think working 80-hour weeks and working from home after hours or on the weekends are wise decisions. However, it isn’t. As a matter fact, it’s unhealthy. Obsessive, ongoing overwork has detrimental effects on both employee health and the economic line of the company.

Despite all the rhetoric about work-life balance, some people still believe that overworking makes them better or more dedicated than other people. Of course, there are times when additional effort is important especially for pressing deadlines, an emergency at work, or something similar.

One thing has changed though: our knowledge of the effects of overwork and the harm burnout can do to our physical and mental health has increased significantly.

Burnout was identified as a sickness and classed as an occupational phenomenon by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019. They classify burnout as a "syndrome emerging from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed".

The WHO continued by stating that burnout has three characteristics:
  1. Feeling low of energy or exhausted.
  2. Having a bad or cynical attitude regarding one's profession or feeling mentally removed from it.
  3. Professional effectiveness falls.

In today’s fast-paced world, it's challenging to manage our obligations at work with those of our families and friends, our health, our hobbies, and even our pets. Transitioning from one in order to focus on the other is difficult and not entirely possible. So how do individuals genuinely balance work and life?

The reality is that most individuals don’t! We frequently experience guilt because we are unable to be fully present without considering other issues, whether they be personal or work-related.

You're not alone if you've ever thought it would be impossible to lead two separate lives. A work-life balance aims to prioritize professional and personal obligations equally while setting up clear boundaries and a set schedule for each. And because of this, people are no longer looking for a work-life balance but rather a work-life integration, an alternative trend that combines our professional and personal lives.

Integrating our personal and professional responsibilities involves finding compromises and balancing both. It requires a mindset shift and ensuring that structures are in place to facilitate, but it enables satisfaction of our responsibilities and opens up a whole new universe of opportunities for us to reduce our stress levels and find more fulfillment. Work-life integration's flexibility enables employees to more effectively manage their obligations and schedules, resulting in a higher level of happiness in all areas of their lives and boosting both personal and professional productivity.

As we have recently experienced, distinctions between work and personal life seem to be eroding as remote and hybrid workplaces become more common.

In the end, both work-life integration and work-life balance are strategies for achieving a healthy balance between our professional and personal lives; however, work-life integration focuses more on making life and work coexist and come closer together while work-life balance is more concerned with making life and work exist separately.

Finding harmony is the main goal of picking one or the other. So how do you choose between work-life balance and integration?

Whatever option you choose, keep in mind that it's all about assisting you in reducing stress, enhancing your personal wellbeing, and improving productivity. Therefore, don't get too caught up in the language; mix and blend as you see fit.

Here are a few examples I would like to share to avoid overworking yourself yet still be effective:
  1. Create a boundary between work and home that is necessary.
  2. Prioritize your tasks and work on learning how to say no to tasks with little value add.
  3. Remove the “always-on” mentality due in part to the growing adoption of new technology.

I must emphasize that it is simple to slip into the trap of believing that the more hours you put in, the better employee you’ll be. But the important thing is not how long you labor, but rather what you accomplish and the impact.

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