When It’s OK to Be a Workaholic

My last Herald column, working when you don’t have to  – NZ Herald here –   elicited several negative comments about ‘workaholics’, including family problem.

I’d like to put a few ideas into the ring on how to manage this ‘obsession’ as it was called in a comment. As well as keeping your kids safe and your marriage intact (other side effects mentioned of this affliction).

Yes, I am a self-confessed workaholic. However, Steve and I will celebrate our 30th anniversary this year. Our six kids, even with a workaholic mom and corporate dad, managed to be honour students (4 out of 6), a head boy, deputy head boy, three sports captains, team captains and in university all straight A students.

I’d like to share a few pointers on making it work from this self-confessed workaholic mom.

  1. Left corporate world to become self-employed
    I left the corporate world when my first, Alexander was born. Three years later we had twins. Three years later, triplets. When the triplets started kindergarten, I was chomping at the bit to start working again. A choice you can make is instead of returning to a full time corporate roll,; deciding to start a home based business. I did this with a marketing consultancy. Flexibility and time with family. Check.
  2. Self-employed rather than business owner
    When you start your own business, your vision can be large – creating a thriving business with staff and the multitude of obligations that brings you. Or you consciously decide to stay small and flexible. This was my decision. Never to create a monster that would swallow me and heap all those extra problems on our families back.
  3. Taking the ‘smart’ path
    Roughly a year after setting up the marketing consultancy business, I looked at all the work I could do/take on (wrote a list in fact) and then ranked them according to:

    1. passionate about
    2. pleasurable

The activities with the three P’s would be the ones I concentrated on. It makes 100% sense to focus your energy and efforts bringing in the work that you not only love, but also create the biggest ‘buck’ for your effort put in. This changed my business 100%  and put me on the path to become a motivational speaker and trainer.

  1. From day one employed technology and learnt it
    This enables you to do much more in less time.

    1. Diamond in software
      With the guidance of Steve, I quickly learnt about the diamonds in our everyday software. Waiting to be discovered, waiting for you to use them so they can save you time, become you a master of communication and business development. By learning my software and combining it with clever thinking, I can honestly say that I can do in 15 minutes what takes other businesses three days and three staff members to accomplish.
    2. Wireless and laptops
      From day one I understood the importance of wireless and laptops. It meant freedom. Yes, I could be a workaholic mom, still working on something at 9PM, but I was doing it while sitting in the living room with the family, watching tv and all together. Though I have to say, that was then! Now if the kids aren’t in their own rooms on their phones/laptops, then we are together with the tv on; but everyone on their own screen!
  2. The importance of marketing and promotion
    One of the most important aspects of running a business is finding new customers as well as getting old ones to repeat (of course). So a large part of my workaholic time is actually done on marketing and promotional activities, although subtle. You can be the best at something – but if people don’t know about you, what good is it?
  3. Share the joy/fun of it
    I have a unique job as a motivational speaker. It means lots of travel. From the very beginning I decided to bring the family in as much as possible. This meant bringing the kids (in batches), husband even my mother in law with me on speaking engagements when possible. Yes, it meant extra plane fares, but it made for a more inclusive family life than always having a parent away.


Even with all the tips on managing the round the clock demands of business, it still comes down to when you love the work you do, it is hard to leave it, especially when it’s your baby (your business).