Sarah Britten
Sarah Britten

Are you a workaholic?

Hi everyone. My name is Sarah, and I am a workaholic.

This is nothing new; I always was a workaholic. My life and outlook always has been dominated entirely by the notion of Getting Things Done. Oh, there was the day job (which, in advertising, is frequently a night job too). I consider my books to be work, as opposed to hobbies or leisure, just so that I can reassure myself I am Being Productive. During the years when I procrastinated over my PhD, I never experienced a guilt-free weekend.

I’m sitting in my office as I write this (and I’m only writing this because I’m competitive, I’ve slipped down the rankings, and I’m putting off doing the work I should really be doing). It’s after 8pm and it’s cold. Damn cold. A couple of people in the design department are working late, as they often do. I can hear the whoosh of the air conditioners and the clickety-click of my keyboard echoes across the cubicle farm.

I am here because I need to go over a competitor analysis for a client who wanted it by the end of today; I couldn’t have it ready because I was busy in meetings until after 6. I am also fleshing out a marketing template for another client (actually the same client, just in a different division; the global chief marketing officer is out reviewing their plans next week and I am helping out).

Tomorrow, I need to work on a document for a new business pitch, the third in two weeks. (Tuesday — when we presented in two consecutive pitches — was heavy going.) I’ve just remembered that I’m meant to have prepared another communication strategy for another client and while it’s all in my head, I simply haven’t had time to write it up. Tomorrow afternoon I am doing a workshop and team-building exercise with my department and I need time, I am meant to be working on the new business pitch to prepare for it.

I should be working on my next book of insults, which I write after hours. Only, there are no after hours now; it’s all work, including (often) weekends. I am tired, incredibly tired and I am hoping that somehow that next glass of Berocca will spark the mental energy to get through the next shift.

I don’t necessarily mind these long hours. In fact, I like being busy; in Australia earlier this year, I wasn’t busy enough and I couldn’t deal with that. I felt morally and spiritually inadequate because I wasn’t working in the proper sense. I wasn’t getting on the ferry with the commuter crowd, I wasn’t paying taxes or preparing something for a client.

But there are nights like these when I am tired and cold and it’s just me and the cleaners and I get just a tiny bit grouchy. And then I wonder whether I am a real workaholic or just someone who just likes to think I’m one. Because, in this society, working too long or too hard can’t be a bad thing, right?