Confessions of a Workaholic - Take Care of Your Work by Taking Care of Yourself

When I first received my iPhone it was liberating. I could do my busy job without being in the office all the time – perfect for a part-time role. What I soon realised was that I was behaving like Pavlov’s dog, and as soon as I heard a beep I would instantly respond. The result: no down time.

I recognised this early on and switched off the beep, but for a workaholic. It was too late and the desire for knowledge (control?) was too much. By habit, I was checking my phone all the time: morning, noon and night. I had earned a reputation for being available 24/7. I was exhausted and on a very short fuse. I was not sleeping well and spent hours awake at night thinking about work.

Source: http://www.careersupport365.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/The-House-of-Change_diagram.jpgI decided to meet with a personal trainer to get my health back on track and to designate some “me time.” My personal trainer introduced me to the “House of Change,” by Dr. Tony Grant. The House of Change is a psychological coaching tool that explores the factors influencing goal achievement.  

She pointed out that while I was really good at juggling multiple priorities (balls), the first ball I always dropped was my own. She worked to help me understand that my own ball was the last one I should drop!

At this time I had also been reading about the importance of recovery and relaxation for professional athletes. This got me thinking … doesn’t the same apply to business professionals?

Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ed/Ronald_graham_juggling.jpgAndrew May, a psychologist with The Performance Clinic, talks about the importance of mental stamina. He believes that “in today’s competitive and fast paced business world, mental stamina is no longer an asset. It’s a necessity. People high in mental stamina know how to work smarter, not harder. Those with mental stamina perform better, are more resilient, experience greater levels of well-being and satisfaction, and are more productive and more positive.” 

Clearly it was time for me to take a real break; a warm, sunny, relaxing holiday with the opportunity for exercise, reflection and most importantly, time with my husband and children. I decided not to take my iPhone during the holiday to truly allow myself a break. I knew it was my job to rest and recover so that I could regain my mental stamina and perform better at work. Every time I started to think about work, I reminded myself that it was my job to be on holiday and my responsibility to go back to work refreshed and rejuvenated.

I came back feeling liberated and more positive about my workload. It made me realize how important it is for business professionals to block out “me time” to exercise and relax so that they maintain a healthy mental stamina. As a workaholic, I love to work, but it needs to be a sustainable relationship.

If you devote yourself to your job and make yourself constantly available, but you find yourself feeling mentally and physically drained, then you may need a similar break. Don’t be afraid to “unplug” and have some “me time.” Your work is one of your highest priorities, but to take care of your work and be on top of your game you have to also take care of yourself.


With a background in human resource management, business and training, Katherine specialises in delivering programs and workshops to clients regarding career management and career transition. Katherine is fully accredited in SHL Psychometric Assessments. She has strong project management, strategy planning and counselling skills. Katherine holds a Bachelor of Commerce (University of Tasmania) as well as a professional diploma in HR Consulting (Monash University).


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  1. Melinda Brown's avatar
    Melinda Brown
    | Permalink
    Thanks, Katherine - a good reminder to all of us on the importance of work-life balance! I've also just started a self-imposed rule of not opening my work email account on my iPhone after hours. My evenings and weekends have been so much more relaxing as a result, and I start the work week more refreshed.

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