But for workaholics, the day of rest never comes. There is always one more
email to read, one more phone call to take, one more critically important trip
to the office that can't wait until Monday.
Weekends? Holidays? Family? As the uber-workaholic Ebenezer Scrooge put it,
"It used to be that I never went on vacation without my laptop and a couple of
beepers," says George Giokas, who describes himself as a "reformed" workaholic.
When he was starting his company, StaffWriters Plus, in the pre-BlackBerry
mid-1990s, Giokas spent more than a few late nights and nearly every Saturday
at the office, he tells WebMD.
As he confessed to the online edition of Business Week in 1999, "I've
struggled with the weekend issue many times, trying to figure out why I
absolutely have to work then. It must be ingrained in me to the point of being
a kind of addiction -- like going to the health club every day. If I miss one
day, I feel awful."
But Giokas has since learned that the problems that pop up when he's away from
the office will still be there when he gets back, and that what happens in the
office stays in the office.
"I'm not the sort of person to bring home problems," he says, "and I don't
dwell on issues. I get a pretty good night's sleep."
Not every workaholic, however, is able to achieve the balance that Giokas
Justin Blanton, who practices law in California's Silicon Valley, tells WebMD
that he is a workaholic and that the problem has only gotten worse in the four
years since he wrote the following on his blog:
"Whether I'm reading a Harry Potter book on my PDA while waiting in the deli
line, checking email on my phone as soon as my date makes for the ladies room,
or heading back to my computer each commercial break (no TiVo… yet) -- I'm
always checking something."
"It's gotten worse in the sense that it hasn't let up at all, and I feel
more compelled to be busy," Blanton says today.
In a culture that prizes work ethic, overachievement, and financial success
-- where gazillionaires such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are household
names, and Donald Trump has his own television show -- people who are addicted
to working are seen by outsiders as smart, ambitious, and
"The system is almost built to reinforce workaholics," says Simon A. Rego,
PsyD, associate director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center in
New York City. "Those are the people who end up getting positive job
evaluations, get opportunities for promotion, and see themselves getting
bonuses or raises. It's almost like the system has a built-in model to give
them free hits of what they're addicted to."