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THE PRE-COVID YEARS: THE RISE OF THE WORKAHOLIC

They say that admitting the problem is the first step to recovery. Well, if that’s the case, I have a confession to make. I am a workaholic. 

Since high school, I have prided myself on being a workaholic and getting stuff done in advance. For years, I thought of weekends as my catch-up days for school work. Sure, I would watch more television than I would on the weekdays, but getting work done was always my top priority. Even when my family went out to restaurants or new spots out of town, I insisted on bringing my school work with me so I could study or finish up some questions. Being productive was an obsession of mine, and making sure I used my time wisely was super important. Many nights were spent typing away on my laptop with a cup of tea by my side. Funnily enough, I never was a coffee drinker despite being a workaholic.

Ok, well that doesn’t sound too bad, right? Hold on, it gets worse...

While many of my friends spent their lunches hanging out with other friends and eating, I spent my lunch hour doing other things. I was always actively involved in councils, clubs and other extracurricular activities back in high school and still to this day. But in high school, everyday I would have commitments, whether that be leading the business council meeting, conducting trumpet sectionals, or studying for a math test. I was so busy that it was rare for me to actually eat lunch or catch up with friends. More often than not, lunch would consist of a granola bar and water, and conversations with friends would be limited to 10 minutes, give or take. How I had friends and managed to create meaningful friendships, I’ll never know.

All I knew was work, eat, sleep, and repeating the cycle.

And truth be told, I kind of enjoyed the hustle and the adrenaline rush that came with being a workaholic. More importantly, I enjoyed the good grades and praise that came with my workaholic tendencies. Report cards with straight As and comments of having a ‘good work ethic’ and being ‘a hard worker’ were common. And for a long time, I thought that being a workaholic was ‘cool.’ I’m shaking my head just typing this, but it’s true. Perhaps I had been watching too many yuppie movies from the 1980s and 1990s where working until you were dead tired was normalized, or the fact that I was addicted to the grades and praise I was receiving. I really don’t know, but what I did know was that I was always so drained at the end of the day.

CLIMAX: SUMMER 2021

If we were looking at a typical plot diagram, the summer of 2021 would be the climax of it all. When the pandemic started in 2020, I had started becoming less of a workaholic, but as the pandemic continued, I just couldn’t give up my tendencies. Old habits really do die hard. So in the summer of 2021, on top of working at retail for five to eight hours a day, five days a week, I would lock myself out for hours from my family and friends to work on my teleplays, articles, or networking with those in the television industry through Zoom calls. Four months of summer break flew by so fast. All of a sudden, it was a new semester and it dawned on me that I never once fully relaxed that entire summer. That's when it hit me. I couldn’t do this anymore.

THREE STEPS TO EVENTUAL RECOVERY…HOPEFULLY

Perhaps many of you can relate to these anecdotes above—or maybe not—hopefully, your experience as a workaholic isn’t as bad as mine. Look, I’ll be the first to say this, there’s nothing to be ashamed of being a workaholic. But if you’re looking to reduce your workaholic tendencies, like me, or are just looking to stop working for long periods of time, here are some tips that have really helped me do just that. 

  1. Listen to your body

First and foremost, listen to what your body is telling you. I clearly remember a sticky note I had put in my locker with the words, “Push it to the limit.” In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the best quote or motivating words to stick in my locker. I learned this the hard way, but at the end of the day, don’t push yourself too hard as it’s not good for you. When your body feels tired, take a break. Turn off your laptop, grab a snack, take a nap or, if you’re really up for it, exercise. Just do something that will get your body rested again. I know it’s hard but try not to overexert yourself.

  1. Actively prioritizing what is important to you

I think it took the pandemic for me to slowly realize this but I can’t stress enough just how important it is to prioritize what actually matters to you. For a long time, I put grades and my ego ahead of my family and friends. And for what? To eventually end up in a cushy corporate job just as lonely? No, thank you. So recently, I made a list of things that I cared about and that really helped sort a lot of my priorities out. Some of the things I put were: Family, watching television and films (that I know I will enjoy), writing teleplays, and going on walks at least once a week.

  1. Scheduling time and setting boundaries

This might be an obvious one but having a planner, whether it be digital or physical, really helps, too. The more detailed the schedule the better, but as long as you can put the main points down, that is good enough. Writing down the times when you should take a break and how long you should work can prevent you from sitting at your desk typing away on your assignments for long periods of time. Also, learn to set boundaries for yourself. Leave your laptop in the room you work in when it’s time to take a break. Set a time when you should turn off your electronic devices. Getting someone who can keep you accountable can help, too.

CONCLUSION

Sometimes I do fall back into my workaholic habits and work until I physically can’t anymore. But ever since that ‘climax’, I have been working on improving healthy habits for myself (that has got to count for something, right?). Over the past two years, I have learned that although a part of me is a workaholic, I'm constantly working on dedicating more of my time to the things I love, like spending more time with family and watching my favourite television shows and movies. And for all you workaholics out there, always remember that you should always come first, not your work! Take good care of yourselves, everyone!

Amanda Noor

Toronto MU '24

Amanda Noor is a second-year Creative Industries student at Ryerson University. She's a huge movie and TV buff as well as an American history and political junkie. When she's not writing articles for Her Campus, you can find her watching sitcoms from the 80s and 90s or daydreaming about living in New York City.
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