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8 Subtle Signs You’re More of a Workaholic Than You Think

Enjoying your job is one thing, but here are some undeniable warning signs that you might be taking your work a little too far.

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You’re the first one in and the last one out of the office

Although you may like to spend early mornings plowing through work before the mad rush of meetings, and the evenings might provide a quiet time to organize tasks for tomorrow, doing both too often could be a sign that you’re a workaholic. Working excessively will make you tired, sick, and burned out. Plus, studies show that long hours don’t necessarily mean productive hours. In the 1990s, Ford Motor Company released research showing that for every additional 20 hours of work above the recommended 40 hours, productivity increased for only three or four weeks before it became negative. Keeping a healthy work-life balance means clocking out after your eight hours end.

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You can’t log out

Vacation days exist for a reason: so you can take a vacation. If you are stressing about an impending deadline while lounging on the beach, or trying to fit in a work calls from the ski slopes, you might have a problem. When you leave the office, try to turn off all work devices; keep them away somewhere safe and inaccessible. Some experts even suggest limiting your email checks to three times a day, max: once when you first arrive in the office, once after lunch, and one more time before you leave. Becoming too preoccupied with work will make you forget to be in the present moment.

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You don’t take care of your body

Constantly feeling ill? You might be working too much. Research shows that workaholics are at higher risk for a number of physical and psychological disorders, including type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, depression, and anxiety. Workaholics also have higher burnout rates and truncated career trajectories, Bryan E. Robinson, a psychotherapist and author of Chained to the Desk, tells U.S. News. Working while you’re sick could mean making a mistake or losing productive working hours, so try to avoid grabbing fast food for a quick lunch or skipping the gym because you decided to stay late at the office. Your body will thank you for the extra care, and so will your boss.

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iStock/Steve Debenport

Your feelings of self-worth are completely tied to your work success

It’s okay to celebrate your wins in the workplace, but depending on them for your happiness is a problem. “A workaholic relies on external validation from their boss, colleagues, and clients,” writes Jullien Gordon, author of The 8 Cylinders of Success: How to Align Your Personal and Professional Purpose, in a LinkedIn blog post. “They wait for external evaluations such as mid-year or annual reviews done by others to understand how well they are doing.” It’s important to find things outside of work that make you feel successful too, like a recreational softball league or a weekly book club.

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You don’t have outside hobbies or fun activities

On a similar note, when work-related goals or successes are the only factors motivating you to get up in the morning, it’s time to realign your priorities—and that doesn’t mean reading a company handbook during your commute or lifting weights at your standing desk. “Find hobbies that don’t involve what you do from 9 to 5,” advises U.S. News. Make it a goal to visit all of the museums in your city, or volunteer at a local nonprofit on the weekends. Your daily satisfaction will increase when you’re not spending all of your time in the office. Check out these surprising secrets to help you be happier at work.

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You’re never satisfied with your performance at work

Workaholics never know when enough is enough, says Gordon. “They are always focused on more and seeking to maximize everything, because they don’t really know what success means to them.” A perfectionist’s attention to detail, while helpful at times, could turn into unnecessarily long hours at the office and unhealthy levels of stress. Strive for better, but always know when to stop and recognize achievements—yours as well as those of others.

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You’ve never told your boss “no” (and you rarely tell your friends “yes”)

If your friends start saying “We never see you anymore” or “You’re always busy,” this could be a warning sign of workaholism. It’s great to take on extra projects at work, but it’s also important to recognize when you’re overexerted; don’t be afraid to sit down with your boss and explain the extent of your current responsibilities before agreeing to take on more, advises Stephanie Marston, a motivational speaker, best-selling author, and a stress and resiliency expert. Set aside blocks of time for personal and social activities in your regular schedule. It will give you a breath of fresh air after a long day in the office. Also, check for these 12 signs that your workplace is actually toxic.

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You don’t ever call yourself a workaholic

As with any addiction, one of the most common signs you’re a workaholic is that you can’t admit it. “The people who tease and joke about being workaholics rarely are,” says Robinson. “Workaholics are like alcoholics in that they often are in denial that they have a problem. It’s often a need to escape from something within themselves that they’re not aware of.” Take cues from your friends and family, and talk to your doctor if you start to recognize symptoms. In the meantime, here are 36 more ways to make your work day less stressful.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Brooke Nelson
Brooke is a tech and consumer products writer covering the latest in digital trends, product reviews, security and privacy, and other news and features for