5 Proven Ways to Overcome Your Obsession With Working Hard


You should work hard. Work harder and hustle harder. When you love what you do, you don’t get tired. If you want to succeed, you have to work until you get exhausted.

We hear and see such messages everywhere.

Modern people are very dedicated to working, and workaholism is not considered a problem but rather a necessity for everyone who wants to succeed.

Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX became a productivity icon for the modern generation. On Twitter, he said that “nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week,” and many people agree with him.

“You must master your time rather than becoming a slave to the constant flow of events and demands on your time. And you must organize your life to achieve balance, harmony and inner peace.” –Brian Tracy

Even though everybody knows that overworking leads to stress, anxiety, and burnout, such work-related problems are perceived as signs of a dedicated and strong worker. The sad truth is that the workaholic culture, which was dubbed “hustle culture” by The New York Times, justifies stress and exhaustion.

Work gives many millennials meaning and purpose. However, in reality, the obsession with productivity often causes significant damage to it. Most people don’t need to work 80 hours a week to reach their point of burnout.

Many millennials feel guilty for not working enough because they get used to the idea that they would achieve much more if they just worked more. It gets harder to meet societal expectations.

We all know that stress and anxiety kill productivity, so it becomes extremely important to see the difference between working hard and being obsessed with work.


What’s the difference between working hard and being obsessed?

Although workaholics and hard-working people may look the same from the outside, they are often driven by different motivations and pursue different goals. Simply put, hard-working people work to improve the quality of their lives, while workaholics sacrifice their lives to work harder.

If your main purpose is to attain results, you can prioritize tasks and develop effective planning strategies. In contrast, if your main goal is just to be busy, you may try to fill every minute of your life with work, and the actual purpose of such an activity loses its meaning.

The hard workers properly evaluate their capabilities and know that they will achieve better results with time when their skills will develop and improve. Workaholics run after perfection.

“Busy is a false sense of accomplishment. Stop the addiction to busy and instead be committed to doing more of the right things.” –Trina Gray

It’s hard for workaholics to prioritize different tasks. They are often unsatisfied with their own performance and depend on the external sources of validation (managers, supervisors, clients, etc.).

The last but not least difference between people who work hard and people who are obsessed with work is that the former ones prioritize themselves and the quality of their lives, while the latter prioritize their work and put their lives second.

If you want to succeed, you should focus on your objectives and use your time productively. You should work effectively instead of just working as much as you can.


Obsession with work: the checklist

How do you know when you work too much? How to understand whether working actually helps you achieve your goals or becomes a problem? Here are a few typical signs that your work loses its meaning and becomes an obsession.

  • Your work makes you anxious.
  • You try to work as hard as you can because you’re afraid that you won’t achieve your goals.
  • You think about work even when you’re not working.
  • You work on holidays.
  • People say that you look like you’re not being present.
  • You answer work calls and check emails before and after your work hours.
  • You have hard times delegating tasks to others.
  • You hate yourself for being unproductive and lazy.
  • You try to work harder to prove something.
  • You cannot enjoy activities and conversations that have nothing to do with your work.

5 proven ways to overcome the obsession with working hard

1. Don’t check your phone as soon as you wake up

Many of us start every morning by checking our smartphones. Instead of thinking of our goals and planning our daily activities, we immediately switch from the proactive to the reactive mode: our attention is immediately stolen by emails, messages, and notifications.

You can be more productive and work more effectively if you spend this time generating ideas and setting priorities for today.

2. Don’t sleep in

If you don’t need to be at the office at 9:00, sleeping in can become a real problem. When you wake up late, you start your day in a lazy way and realize that you don’t have as much time as you’ve planned

If you like to work hard, sleeping in leads to a sense of guilt so you try to compensate these wasted hours by overworking. Wake up early and you won’t feel stressed out. It will be easier for you to focus and to stay productive.

3. Negotiate your salary

Many people see salary negotiation as a conflict so they try to avoid it at any cost. At the same time, they may realize that they need more money so they work more, justifying overworking as the only solution.

You should understand that salary negotiation is a natural conversation, and any employer expects it. There’s nothing wrong with negotiating your salary, in fact, negotiation is an integral part of our everyday lives.

For example, if you want to buy a car, you likely won’t agree to the first price you hear. There is a certain salary range that your boss is ready to pay, so don’t be afraid to talk about it.

The main thing is to stay professional and not to approach salary negotiation as a conflict.

4. Be productive instead of being busy

If you want to be productive, the first thing you should do is prioritize important tasks. Not all tasks are equally important. Some tasks require more commitment and bring more results.

Thus, we suggest that you focus on the actual value of every task instead of focusing on the number of tasks. You will be much more productive devoting a few hours to important tasks than when working for over 10 hours a day just trying to complete more tasks.

Create a daily, weekly, and monthly plan, prioritize your tasks and goals, and you will be able to actually accomplish more instead of just being busy all the time.

5. Quit multitasking

According to research, when we switch from one task to another, our brain needs at least 25 minutes to focus on the new task. This is a so-called “attention residue” phenomenon, and it means that every time you switch to a new task, a part of your attention is still focused on the previous task — it’s just the way our brain works.

Therefore, multitasking creates numerous distractions and actually prevents you from working productively. In addition, multitasking makes you feel tired and drains your energy. To avoid it, put more effort into proper planning and prioritizing.



Is being a workaholic the only way to succeed at work? Even if it seems so, the truth is that workaholism decreases your productivity, leads to lower life satisfaction, and causes significant damage to your physical and mental health.

If you want to accomplish more, you should work productively, which means working in a smart way. Set priorities and plan your work instead of trying to complete more tasks.

Focus on your goals and the purpose of your work instead of just being busy. Such a smart approach will actually help you improve the quality of your life instead of sacrificing it in the name of work.

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