Workaholic questions

What is it with us workaholics? I just don’t get it. I work hard at the job for which I get paid. I worry about it all the time I am not there. I think about it, get insomnia over it, and am constantly catching myself working out how to solve some problem or deal with some issue when really I "need" to be doing the ironing or attending to some family member’s needs or similar. (Actually, I have much worse things to worry about than work, and I always remember a colleague’s notice he had stuck on his terminal: "Nobody’s last words were ever ‘I wish I’d spent more time in the office’  ", but knowledge does not stop the situation I describe.)

Just over a year ago, I started messing about with this blogging lark. Everyone at work seemed to be talking about blogs, so I dipped my toe in, first via an rss reader and then over the Christmas break in 2005, started a blog just to see what it was like to write things "out there" off my own bat, rather than being related to my paid employment.

Since then, I’ve gone down several blind alleys but have developed and settled on a strong blogging identity; I feel I’ve truly connected with a dozen or so people (or their blogs). I read lots of others. I recognise that blogging is essentially a fragile activity: one can develop these intense online relationships of ideas, yet one’s blog can be taken down in an instant, on a whim, and one can simply not respond to people one only "knows" via email or otherwise online if one feels so inclined. One does not "owe" these people or blogs anything. Yet collectively they form, in my mind, a vast demand. Why?

Why is blogging such a consuming activity? How have I arrived at a situation, within a year, of a full screen of Gmail (as opposed to work email) messages every night (demanding answers, in my mind if not in reality) when I stagger home exhausted and log on after the "cooking the tea and helping with homework" hour? How come I feel such a failure when I have missed going through my rss subscriptions one evening and am so aware that I’ll "pay" by "having" 300 to scroll through/read the next day? Why do I feel the pressure to post at least once an evening?

Why have I turned blogging into work? Why do I now read a book a week instead of every 2 days? Why do I never watch any of the DVD boxed sets that I ironically buy? (Let alone go to a movie or watch a DVD of a single film?)

What is happening here? Why am I doing this to myself?

18 thoughts on “Workaholic questions

  1. Hehehe. We all go through this. I have been effectively blogging since the Year 2000. I have pulled the pin twice. I always come back. I read somewhere (but can’t remember where) that bloggers burn out after 18 months to 2 years. I would agree with that cycle. I think it’s a manner of finding a balance. Easier said than done, however.

  2. Very interesting post, Maxine. I feel many of the same things you do. Though I don’t think it makes you unhappy, right? For me it just seems now like a natural part of my life, if bizarre when you pause to inspect it.
    I don’t feel in the slightest burnt out, though, and I’ve been blogging since mid-2003 (at the book-blog) and mid-2004 (at the deblog). I actually feel more and more comfortable in the role, as I’ve come to know people like you and feel a growing sense of community. One has a “public,” however odd that may be, and feels a responsibility to it.
    You just hope that they’re not all skimming past your posts at the speed of the Google Reader scroll.

  3. I feel much the same way and despite my attempts at the beginning of the year to cease I wonder back. I needed time to think and write but miss the day to day of blogging and reading blogs. I guess I’m coming back maybe not as prolific who knows maybe more. I think it’s the online relationships and points of view, also information. I’m an information junkie and I love reading everything and after the last 6 weeks I feel a bit “vacant” I guess.
    My family are not “readers” my book interests have always been my own, blogging with other like minded people gives me a chance to learn, share and discuss one of my true interests.
    I can talk development or Commercial Real Estate with old colleagues or business with all sorts of friends, but books I’m on my own. That was how I discovered blogs to begin with.
    The real treat has been meeting the people behind the blogs and Maxine you are a prime example of that. You in the UK me in Western Canada it is a great invention this blogging a ten fold improvement over the “Pen Pal”.
    all my best Steve
    PS Thanks for the kind words on my blog.
    The perfect example of why we blog.

  4. They say if you do what you love for a living, it will become work. Maxine, cut yourself some slack: Treat the blog as fun, not work, and don’t feel obligated to read everything everywhere.
    Put parameters on your time: Only read certain things, certain days; don’t feel you have to post something *every* day. Basically, do it for you and not for everyone else. You won’t lose your core group of readers and online friends.
    I only work part-time and I have come to really enjoy my life. There’s time for husband (who also only works about 20 hours/week), kids, dog, reading, writing, gardening, cooking, etc. In my opinion, a balanced life reduces stress *a lot*. And it seems to be pretty good for the kids, too: Their parents are present and not crazed with work. I recommend the part-time life to everyone I know who can afford to take that route: You’ll be poorer materially and richer in every other way.

  5. Did something bring this feeling on, Maxine?
    Sometimes, you just have to back away from the computer in order to put it into perspective. As for those RSS readers, “mark as read” works well at silencing the nagging.

  6. I believe Susan Balee said it perfectly. If blogging is something you do for pleasure, you needn’t work so hard at it. Your blog is amazing, Maxine, so amazing that it could be the product of half a dozen people, not just one lady who is trying to relax. You don’t need to post every day. I think you should allow yourself to post only when you actually feel like it. If you would prefer to take a break for a week or two, we won’t go away. As a matter of fact, quite honestly I prefer a blog that occasionally takes a ‘break’. That allows me to take a break from reading. I do suspect that the ‘burnout’ experienced by so many bloggers is caused by self-imposed pressure. If it’s not ‘fun’, don’t do it. Life is too short.

  7. Thanks for all your wonderfully kind comments,everyone.
    Steve, great comeback and I knew you meant wander! Thank you for sharing your feelings about the past 6 weeks and the reasons you came back. That really resonates with me, you have crystallised something there, in the “sharing of like minds” — like you, blogging allows me to communicate about those personal interests that I don’t share with the other people I meet in real life (not “friends” as I don’t really have any, but work colleagues and partner).
    Debra, you are perceptive as ever. The blogging has become my personal scenery and I can’t imagine doing without it.
    Susan B, yes, that is probably the answer. For my own reasons (more neurosis probably) I feel a strong need to provide for my family which keeps me working flat out. I also recognise that for a compulsive person like me, part-time working is not easy, as I would just do it all the time anyway, whether I was being paid or not (a lot of people I have worked with over the years in “part time” jobs are like that — the blessing and the curse of a “vocational” job).
    Susan, you are sensible as ever. I used to post more frequently but decided to cut myself down to one post a day for the reasons you describe. I should perhaps let go a little more on those days when it all seems too much, but as Debra and Steve say in their different ways, it is writing that blog post that gives me what little sanity I have!
    Thank you Kim and Marydell — you are right, I should be more sensible and less neurotic. I know that.
    Mainly, thank you all so much for the attention and care of your comments. That means a lot and I feel much better now.

  8. I can’t speak for others, but I do know that if I give up one ‘addiction’, then I end up replacing it with another. It’s the way I’m made, and I’ve stopped – mostly – flagellating myself about it.

  9. Why are you doing this to yourself, Maxine? Because you have a true artist’s sensibility: something worth doing is worth doing well, thoroughly, as nearly perfectly as possible. The result in this case is one of the best blogs around. It communicates to the world who you are – and it is who you are that has attracted readers. Whether you blog daily, weekly, or monthly, your many fans will always stop by just to check.

  10. Hello Frank, you don’t often comment here (though you link to Petrona a lot from your own blog, very generously), so it means a lot to me that you have commented. Thank you. As usual, you are overgenerous to me. I am sure my blog isn’t that great, but it is lovely that you, and others, enjoy reading it, so thank you for the confidence-booster.

  11. Maxine,
    Sometimes it’s worth taking a deep breath, a little bit of a break and then returning to re-establish your enjoyment factor in this. Your readers will stick around, because they value you! (And also respect you, so will allow you a well deserved break, if you decide to take one…)
    Blogs vary in their nature, content and objective. Some are personal and the author needs to spout forth at least once a day as a sort of personal therapy. But no one says you even have to post once a day. It’s all up to the author and what they want to achieve – and/or what they have time for.
    As long as you continue to enjoy it Maxine…
    We all have doubts now and again. I was surprised to discover this in a conversation with another blogger last October. His blog showed no signs of quitting and yet, he said then that he felt about doing so quite regularly. Perhaps there’s something like “blogger tiredness syndrome” out there; that is yet to be discussed openly.
    Nice to see you’ve posted since this, Maxine. Good to see you still found the enjoyment in connecting – something that you do so well!

  12. Well, I’m the same about my work, but my work is basically books and writing and even blogging. I get paid to blog for my library district, how’s that for a concept?! Of course, I often do that blogging from home, because I’m too busy at work anyway, so then I really don’t get paid now do I.
    I feel your pain, completely and utterly. I’m the exact same way. So let’s find a positive spin to this, somewhere, somehow. Maybe we’ll become uproariously famous one day for having blogged so assiduously. When we’re dead and gone people will be reading our collected blogography, reading and re-reading our priceless posts.
    Or, possibly not. But it sounds good.

  13. Good point, Bluestalking R. When 😉 I have the time I might even turn my blog into a book, via that service we discussed on Petrona a few weeks back.
    I agree that the blogging is what makes it all fun…all these comments have made me appreciate that fact.

  14. Most of my life I have been regarded as slightly weird as I love books so much. As a teenager going out clubbing each night was just SO boring, but if I said I would rather be at home reading I was viewed as a freak. Wherever I have worked I have very rarely found a person with whom I could connect and talk enthusiastically about books. I simply love opening up my blog and reading comments left about something I have written about; I love writing about whatever takes my fancy it is such a feeling of freedom. Some blogs get hardly any comments at all, others a lot. It is very hard not to get addicted and feel that one MUST write something. I write about what I want to when I want do. Blogging is FUN and I have met so many amazing people all over the world. So dismiss the word work in the blogging context and insert FUN instead.

  15. Cfr – with her usual knack of hitting nails on heads – has said much of what I would have …
    I have lost count of the number of times I’ve promised myself to slow down on the blogging – especially when I see the impact it’s having on my writing (which has consistently taken a back seat since I started blogging).
    But here we both are … Sigh.
    It’s good though!

  16. You sum up my own childhood perfectly, Elaine — my mother was always forcing me to socialise but all I’d do was read or, when at the older end of teenagerdom, go to the cinema or theatre — on my own.
    Yes, blogging is great, but not easy to dismiss the “work ethic” aspect to it when that is the personality type you have! I am trying, though.

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