3

I have this problem that I always think about work, I do a lot of overtime and work in the evening and on a weekend because of this addiction. No one pays me for over hours and also in the country of my location overtimes are not good: emails after working hours does not look polite etc. The problem that when I don't work I go really crazy: I tried sports etc. but my internal worries because of my work etc. always take over me. I always think what else should I do etc. I work in the mid-sized company and I'm alone like this. The biggest problem with my work I recently experienced: I commit a lot, do lots of things etc. and after some time it comes to understanding that the project I'm working on belongs to a company, the company doesn't respect that many additional efforts etc. I feel empty after some time...

Why do I have this addiction? Should I consult a psychologist etc? Are there any books to read about problems like this? I literally can't live a quiet life if I don't have a work-related action.

10
  • 9
    We're not qualified to give you an advice about this topic. We can't even say if it may be considered pathological or not. Please consult a professional, the fact that you see the problem is the very first big step but now you have to dig deeper to understand if/what you need to do and it's something you can't/shouldn't do alone. Jul 20, 2019 at 7:37
  • 1
    Have you considered contributing to a personal / open source project outside of working hours, instead of using them for your employer? Jul 20, 2019 at 7:47
  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is something that should be discussed with a therapist (which I guess also answers your question). Also, speaking to a therapist shouldn't be some "big thing" - you can just chat with one for an hour to see if something is within what they can help with. Jul 20, 2019 at 12:48
  • 1
    @filbranden, I thought about my own company - the thing is I will need to start alone and I hate to be alone. I'm really attached to people.
    – Mark
    Jul 21, 2019 at 6:56
  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because you might want the professional help of a therapist to resolve these feelings.
    – Joe
    Jan 30, 2020 at 17:33

3 Answers 3

10

If you do something that after rational thought you don't want to do, without anyone forcing you, then yes, you should consult a psychologist.

So your company doesn't ask you to do overtime, they don't pay you to do overtime, and you don't like doing overtime, and you understand all that, yet you still do it - that's a psychological problem. If you can't stop doing this on your own, then go to a psychologist.

6

Here are a handful of ideas that you might find helpful:

  1. It's okay to think about challenging work outside of work. The idea of not thinking about work when you're away from the office is sterile and disconnected with how our brains actually work. Pondering a work problem over the weekend is totally okay.

  2. It's okay to do work outside of work. Unless your employer has a moratorium on completing work tasks outside of working hours, there is nothing wrong with sending a few emails or polishing a document in your off hours. I consistently send a bunch of emails Sunday night to avoid stressful Mondays.

  3. Focus on doing high quality work. If you find yourself with more time to complete work than your colleagues, up your quality, not the quantity. Committing to a lot of different tasks gets to be overwhelming. Committing to a few tasks, but doing them very well can be just as rewarding, but less anxiety-inducing.

  4. Let your colleagues know you have trouble saying "no." Your colleagues and manager ask you to take ownership of tasks because you do good work and are reliable. If you struggle to turn down extra work, let your colleagues know. They aren't giving you additional work to take advantage of you. Your colleagues care about your happiness at home and at work. They will moderate their requests if asked.

  5. Find an ally and confidant. A trusted friend or a therapist would be a great person to share your feelings with, develop a plan for things to try, and to call on when you have a tough or stressful day.

  6. Keep experimenting with hobbies. It's impossible to know what brings you joy without trying it. You may find a project that distracts you from work but brings you an even greater level of satisfaction.

3

Let's take a step back here because language can be dangerous. Words like "addiction" are medical or legal terms and emotional weight. Go easy on yourself.

I should also add that I have no medical or psychological training and speaking to professionals here is almost always helpful. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness but a positive sign of taking control.

Let's also decompose your question:

The problem that when I don't work I go really crazy: I tried sports etc. but my internal worries because of my work etc. always take over me. [ ... ] Why do I have this addiction? Should I consult a psychologist etc? Are there any books to read about problems like this? I literally can't live a quiet life if I don't have a work-related action.

Everyone gets bogged down in work occasionally. However, not being able to turn off is a concern. The key is to understand why and, if needed, seek professional help.

One thing that helps me is to run thought experiments on myself. Try hard to visualize yourself in these scenarios and study your emotions to see how you react. Remember there are no wrong answers and the goal is to help you get better. For example:

  1. How would I feel if I finished this big project/feature? Would I feel relieved or would I feel pressure for the next one? This reveals whether the pressures are short term or longer term.
  2. Are you scared that a bug or failure will have a severe negative impact on you? Are you creating really high standards that you are having trouble living up to? This can help you understand whether the source of pressure is internal or external.
  3. Is there someone at work that I feel professionally threatened by? Do I feel intimidated by a colleague or pressured by management? If I no longer had to work with an individual or group, how would it change my work experience? This can help identify the source of the pressure. Maybe speak to your manager about how better to deal with this person or group.
  4. If my manager gave me a new staff member that I had to train up, what would I get them to do? This can help you understand things that you can delegate or processes/knowledge that is in your head. Helping others to perform your role is a great way to take the pressure off yourself.

Just to be clear: Do not post the answers here. Consider them yourself and try to take positive, assertive actions to improve you and your work environment.

The biggest problem with my work I recently experienced: I commit a lot, do lots of things etc. and after some time it comes to understanding that the project I'm working on belongs to a company, the company doesn't respect that many additional efforts etc. I feel empty after some time

Sounds like the "meritocracy fallacy" at work - where you assume ability and output equates to attention and promotion. This can lead to the "victim and villain" fallacy - where you are the "victim" and the company is a "villain".

If you want attention, speak to your manager to try to understand how your work impacts the business. Really listen to his or her answers and try to understand his or her reality. It sounds like your manager does not know about the additional work and/or the additional work is not seen to be business relevant.

In the former case (unknown work), ensure your work is more visible to your manager and stakeholders. It is your responsibility to ensure your manager (and peers) know about your work and it is a great opportunity to take control of your own messaging. For example, write a summary email every week summarizing what you have done or prepare a short summary at a regular 1:1 with your manager.

In the latter case (no business relevance), spend time with your manager and team to understand how you can solve better and more relevant business problems. Switch your focus to addressing these and, when you do, make sure your manager and team know. Think of it not as boasting but selling your work to the rest of your organization.

Taking a different approach, focus on how you unwind. Things like sport are great but tend to only occupy your lower-order brain functions. You need something to keep your higher-order brain functions occupied. Social interaction, listening to podcasts while driving, playing a musical instrument, guided meditation and the like are more effective. If you are having trouble sleeping, see your doctor for some short term help.

Lastly, consider taking a break from work. Tell a loved one or trusted friend why and get them to help ensure you don't regress. Write down everything you want to do or plan to do then forget about it. If you think of more things when taking a break, also write them down but keep telling yourself you have written it down so there is no need to fixate on it.

Worst case scenario, maybe your work ethic is just not appreciated at this organization and looking for a job elsewhere may be best. However, make sure you leave for the correct reasons and not just because you leave for the right reasons.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .