Attorneys are often expected to put in long hours at the office. Just because the courts or businesses close at 5, that doesn't mean you have to (or can) stop working. Associates know all too well that after 5 is when the phones go to voicemail automatically, and you can actually get work done.
However, there's a fine line between working long hours and being a workaholic. Though neither is really good for your health, a new Harvard Business Review study suggests that the workaholic mindset is worse for your health than working long hours. Surprisingly absent from their report is any mention of the revolutionary finding that the sky is blue.
The study reviewed survey findings and medical reports for employees of some Dutch company. The survey focused on the participants' "workaholic tendencies," feelings, and physical responses, while the medical exams looked at typical indicators of health such as waistline, triglycerides, blood pressure, and cholesterol in order to provide a RMS or Risk of Metabolic Syndrome.
Generally, the result of the study were that long hours alone were not linked to negative health effects, while workaholic tendencies were.
Positive Thinking Matters
Although workaholics may often love their work, obsessing over it just isn't healthy. Liking your work is important as that is linked to better physical and emotional health for all employees, but those who just can't stop thinking about work aren't doing their bodies or minds any favors. Even if you love your work, obsessing over it still leads to negative health effects, though just not as bad, probably because you're not miserable while working.
Avoiding Negative Workaholic Effects
The key to avoiding the negative effects of being a workaholic involves an honest self assessment. You need to ask if your relationship to work leads to other parts of your life suffering, and whether or not that's healthy, mentally and physically. Changing your work habits might result in an immediate drop in productivity and/or profitability, but it will also likely result in your better health and increased happiness.
Working smarter, not harder, also involves self care.