The past few years have seen me transition from traditional marketing and administrative roles to the topsy-turvy world of PR. This has been a move not without its share of culture shocks, but the one that’s made me cock my head is how, in this field, workaholism seems to be a sort of social currency.
Allow me to extend the following advice to self-described workaholics in public relations (and in all fields, especially creative): OH MY GOD, STOP IT. You are not functioning properly and your work is suffering as a result!
The fact that we are still having these conversations, debating the merits of working one’s self half to death, is itself exasperating. While there are certainly occasions where I or my colleagues will put in extra hours for clients with particular needs, generally speaking, if you are consistently over-working yourself, you are working incorrectly.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not talking about those who live below the poverty line or are otherwise economically disadvantaged in the workforce. Those are inequalities that must be corrected, and another matter of discussion entirely. These are successful entrepreneurs bragging about their workaholism (the ‘ism’ here is not meant to add a positive connotation) in a manner similar to how one might brag about how much one bench-presses.
“Whatever, I’ll admit it: I’m workaholic,” reads one recent Business Insider piece on the topic. “And I’m 100% OK with that.”
The author then goes on to list some of the known consequences of workaholism:
“Working too much is associated with high levels of stress, an actual decrease in productivity at work, strained relationships, and an unhealthily work-life balance.”
Following that is a list of reasons why workaholics are more successful, none of which have any actual basis in science. And the science is pretty clear on the issue.
Now, my team and I don’t shy away from hard work. But we recognize that balance is key in performing optimally both as businesspeople and as human beings, and I’m emphatic in my belief that time must be taken to unplug and rest. People start to break down physically and mentally when regularly clocking 50, 60, or more hours per week – making all that OT wasted time in which you are not making any real progress for your business or your clients.
For us, doing our best work is not workaholism, rushing to meet deadlines or playing never-ending catch-up. It is having a reasonable work ethic and being informed, prepared and undaunted in the face of the unpredictable challenges that always – always! – arise in PR (and most other industries, too.)
Workaholism is a drain on human resources. Overworked individuals are a liability: They are
susceptible to recurring health problems, prone to fatigue and disarray-induced oversights that cost the company time and money.
Setting aside ample time to relax with family and friends on a weekly basis – to become human again – is imperative to professional success. Too much of anything is problematic, and as I prefer to entrust my interests to people who enjoy balanced, healthy lives, I want to present a similar sense of personal harmony to my clients.
People who are smart about life are smart about their work. The workaholics in our lives are doing it all wrong, and could benefit from a bit of help.
Jessica Mailas is Managing Partner, Content at TNKR Media.
@JessicaMailas | firstname.lastname@example.org