10 Signs You Might Be A Workaholic

A few months back, I shared a post about how much of a workaholic I was in grad school. I was in rough shape and didn’t realize I was overworking myself until I was very burnt out  — too much sugar-free red bull and too little enough sleep/relaxation time don’t mix well in the long term.

Since that post, I’ve gotten a few emails about how to recognize when you’re starting to overdo it with your work. I’m always down to respond to your emails. Here are 10 signs you may be pushing it too hard:

  1. You hide work from your loved ones to avoid being called a workaholic. You hate being called a workaholic. After all, if they really understood the pressure you were under at work, they’d be doing the exactly the same thing, right?
  2. You’re consistently in bed way too late with the intention of being up way too early. There are never enough hours in the day and you can sleep when you’re dead, right?
  3. You fall asleep with your phone or tablet in hand (on a somewhat regular basis). Just… one… more… email…
  4. You’ve never known a bad time to send an email. This one can be dangerous because it can send the message to your teammates and direct reports that you’re expecting a response or action regardless of the time of night.
  5. You wake up with pen marks on your face (not a great look). You fell asleep with the Penske file in hand… again…
  6. You’re constantly telling others how busy you are. And they never seem to get it.
  7. You constantly feel like your treading water or you’re always digging out of a hole and playing catch-up.
  8. You don’t have any hobbies or activities outside of work. Which means its almost ALL you talk about. A real joy at the Halloween party.
  9. You’re stressed about work when your not at work. Every moment spent away from your desk is another moment you should have been working.
  10. You’re always accessible when it’s work-related but never available to see or talk to friends. And when they do get you on the phone, you’re simultaneously checking your email.

How many items on that list do you identify with? What are your signs that you’re starting to be a bit of a workaholic?

The distinction between being focused on your career and being a workaholic is not always black-and-white. Getting ahead certainly means some late nights, early mornings, with a pedal to the metal, laser like focus on the end goal. But you can’t live like that every day. Something will eventually give.


  1. Steven

    And when you’re 9 for 10 on this list and work shows no possible sign of letting up, the next question is… now what?

    1. Author
      Chelsea Rowe

      Great question, Steven. I wish the answer was less cliche and more feasible when your burning out, but the research consistently shows that the best things you can do is force yourself to exercise on a regular basis, put sleep back on the priority list, and make time to recharge your batteries. All those things seem entirely unfeasible but the key is to force yourself – often you’ll find that you’re hyperfocused on everything on your plate to the point that you’re unable to take a step back a recognize ways you can reorganize or delegate. It’s a hard spot to be in.

      We’ve made a habit of quarterly weekend roadtrips (even if it’s a staycation to things cheap). We always come back more focused and relaxed and I find that I’m considerably more effective the following week. The key is it has to be something that you actually find relaxing — so the regular pilgrimage to the in-laws doesn’t count for most.


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