Are you a Workaholic, ABC News


Are You a Workaholic?
Americans Are Fourth in the Number of Hours Worked Per Year

 

 April 17, 2006 —
 Work hard and get ahead. That's what every American learns growing up, but for millions of them, it's getting harder to tell the difference between working hard and being a workaholic.

 "The line happens when you come home one day and your husband isn't there, and you didn't realize he left you a week ago," Stephen Viscusi said. "Or when you're working just so hard that      you're totally consumed by your job all the time."

Viscusi is CEO of the Viscusi Group, and radio host and author of "On the Job: How to Make It in the Real World of Work." He estimates about 40 percent of American workers don't take vacations, even though their jobs give them time off -- just one indication of how pervasive workaholism is on American society.

"We're ingrained in work, and it's important to have balance between family and work life," Viscusi said.

Americans are fourth in the world when it comes to annual hours worked per capita, behind South Korea, Japan and Australia. Americans work an average of 205 more hours a year than Italians, 270 more than the French and 473 more than Norwegians.

Workaholics Anonymous -- a "fellowship of individuals who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problems and help others to recover from workaholism" -- lists 20 questions to ask yourself if you think you may be a workaholic, including whether you get more excited about work than anything else and work more than 40 hours per week.

Viscusi said a good indication that you're a workaholic is if you are constantly electronically connected to the office, whether by cell phone, BlackBerry or laptop.

Workaholism's effects on the family can be devastating, Viscusi said, with the consequences eventually manifesting themselves, as they would with any other addiction, in broken marriages and broken homes. Brian Robinson, a professor at the University of North Carolina, told "20/20" in 1999 that children of workaholics developed the same disorders as children of alcoholics, such as depression and anxiety, that crippled them later in life.

"They [the signs] show up really in partners and in spouses first," Viscusi said. "When you're constantly fighting about time that you are not home or you're constantly bringing work into the home, into the bedroom. That's a problem."

Viscusi said that women were particularly susceptible to becoming addicted to work, and that the telltale sign that work was becoming a problem for women was when their marriage breaks down or their children start to demonstrate serious developmental problems.

Viscusi offered the following tips for workaholics trying to make a change.
  • Block Off Time for Friends and Family

One of the main casualties of workaholism is family and personal relationships. Workaholism is dangerous because it destroys friendships and families. You have to make time to keep up your social life.
  • Take a Long Weekend

For people who feel like they can't take a vacation, start small by taking a long weekend. It's the perfect way to wean yourself from the office.
  • Sit and Do Nothing

It won't be easy, but just sitting still and doing nothing is a great step to cure workaholism. It provides a nice, meditative spell that diminishes the stress that sometimes pushes people to work too much.

Learn to Delegate Work to Others

Don't take on every project. Don't say yes to everyone. Learn the art of saying "I can't handle any more."

Try an Exercise Routine

Doesn't it seem like exercise is good for everything? It is recommended as part of every self-help regime — well, this is no different. Exercise and yoga help distance you, and it's the hardest place to get any work done. No cell phones allowed!
  • Find a Hobby

Workaholics only think about "work," so a hobby (non-work related) is a great way to take your mind away from the office.
  • Consider Volunteering to Get a Fresh Perspective

Similar to a hobby, this lets you focus on something other than work or your job. It can give you a different perspective and a different way to meet new people.

Copyright © 2006, ABC News, Inc.