Nobody chooses to be a workaholic. And yet, for so many of us, this is the path we have chosen. The old adage – work to live, don’t live to work – feels quaint in this day and age, doesn’t it?

We live in a world where there is always more work to be done than hours in the day. We are beholden to strategic plans, work plans, road maps, targets, deadlines, and funnels. We live with constant change, where opportunities come and go faster than we can qualify ourselves to take advantage of them. We have a planet that needs saving, systems that need repairing, and a population in need of healing.

In short, there is a lot to do.

Unfortunately, we’ve internalized this, and it is destroying our well-being.

Look, I get it. There’s the economic imperative. For better or worse, we live in a world where money is a necessity. (A little Wu-Tang Clan, anyone?)

But if that was all it was, we would all do precisely what was required of us at work and call it day.

We wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night panicked that we forgot to send a “critical” email.

We wouldn’t leave paid vacation days on the table to the tune of 705 million days unused.

We wouldn’t spend our time with loved ones distracted by work stress.

Our current obsession with work goes beyond the economic imperatives of needing a job. We have wrapped our self-worth in our ability to be productive.

The rub, however, is that the relentless pursuit of productivity is a catch 22. Many of the tactics we’ve employed to “get more done” have made us inefficient, unhappy, and sick.

What do you do then, when work has taken over your life? Take it back, of course!

Try out the following framework. Start by choosing one small way you’d like to reallocate work time, and see where it takes you!

The Reframe: Quality over Quantity

Many of us subscribe to the idea of quality over quantity in some capacity: relationships, clothing, Instagram followers. The same is true for the time you spend at work. Research shows that we lose productivity when we work more hours. Strive to dedicate fewer, quality hours to your work.

Find Your Motivation

What is important to you? What do you love or enjoy? Where in your life do you feel a yearning for engagement? Maybe it’s a desire to exercise your creativity. Maybe you want to take better care of your health. Maybe you’re in need of some quality time with your friends. Choose something that matters to you that’s taken a back seat to work, and make it your muse.

Take Action

Commit to prioritize that thing this week in one small way. Whether it’s a fitness class that you will leave the office at 5:30pm to attend, turning off your phone while you spend time with your kids, or taking lunch with a friend who works nearby. Put it in your calendar, tell your coworkers, write it on your to-do list. Do whatever it takes to help you keep that promise to yourself.

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About the Author Aubrie Fennecken

Aubrie Fennecken is the Chief Alchemist at Opportunity Kitchen | work + wellness strategist | nonprofit fundraising expert | providing productivity and self-care support for mission-driven humans

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