7 Signs You're Actually Hurting Your Career By Working Too Much


Workaholics can be extremely single-minded. So, sometimes, the only way to get a workaholic to slow down is to convince them that doing so will be good for their career. It's true: workaholism can hurt your work, which makes it extremely counterproductive. But where's the line between work habits that get you ahead in your career, even if they harm your personal life, and those that hurt your life across the board?

"If you’re like many knowledge workers today, you feel stuck in crisis mode. You’re getting more harried and overwhelmed by the day," Maura Thomas, speaker, trainer, and founder of, tells Bustle. "You work longer hours, but you just don’t feel that you’re as productive as you should be. The key skill you’re missing is attention management. Attention management means you decide where to direct your focus at any given moment based on your priorities."

The truth is, how much work you get done isn't about how many hours you're working. It's about whether you're making the most of those hours, and your mind has to be in top shape to do that. And the quality of your work matters, too. Here are some signs your workaholism is accomplishing the opposite of what you intended.


Your Work Is Interfering With Your Sleep

We're just not operating at our full capacity when we're not sleeping well, says Thomas. We may spend more hours working if we pull all-nighters, but the quality of the work that night and the following day will suffer.


You'll Do Anything To Stay Occupied

Sometimes, workaholism can manifest as a need to always being doing something — even if that thing isn't productive. For example, you might obsessively check your email instead of stopping to brainstorm bigger ideas. If you don't give your mind a break from rote tasks, you'll miss out on the more important things, says Thomas.


You're Working On Vacation

Vacation is vital for recharging, not just for your physical and mental health but also for your work, says Thomas. Working during vacation defeats the purpose of the vacation, leaving your mind cluttered when you return.


You're Saying "Yes" to Everything

Your work will ultimately benefit from being selective about what projects you take on, James R. Nowlin, founder and CEO of corporate consulting firm Excel Global Partners, tells Bustle. This may lead you to take on more work, but it may not further your career goals. "Only accept assignments that are aligned with your experience or skills and set a limit to how many active assignments you can have at a given time," says Nowlin.


You're Not Staying On Top Of Your Field

Some of the things that are most vital to your career don't fall under the umbrella of "work" — like, for example, reading news that relates to your field. If you're failing to do this because your head's buried in assignments, you may lack the knowledge necessary to do your job well, says Nowlin.


You're Tired All The Time

This is the number one sign of work burnout. If you're burnt out, you may be able to power through and get your work done, but you won't be able to do your deepest, clearest, most complex thinking. And if you don't slow down yourself, burnout will slow you down: Everything tends to take more time when you're burnt out, says Nowlin.


You're Less Inspired

If your brain is always full, there's no room for new ideas to come in. It sounds counterintuitive, but doing "nothing" can be productive, since it creates that space for you to get ideas and inspiration.

If you notice these signs in yourself, it's crucial that you learn to delegate tasks and ask for help. "You are not in this game alone," says Nowlin. "Do not overwork yourself. Your colleagues are there to assist you."