We've all met that person at work. She has to read all the policies and procedures before any meeting, comes up with a lengthier report than everyone else's, and is just way too... intense. Every deadline is a life-or-death situation, and frankly, working with her feels like reporting to boot camp duty for an extra set of push-ups every time.
Except when that person is you, and you display all the symptoms of Overachieving Syndrome at work, then it's another story altogether. After all, it's easy to get intense about work. We spend most of our time there, put on most of our weight there, and get most of our stress between our desks and the water cooler, or coffee machine, or candy jar...
I was that -- ahem -- person. The annoying woman with the 10-page report at the meeting. Yes, the one who gave everyone a headache with too many granular details, and way too many questions right before lunch. And while it may have looked good to some, it was just not the right way to go about being productive, efficient or happy at work.
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Piling on the intensity at work can only lead to burnout, dissatisfaction, and an overwhelming desire to eat loads of Haagen Dasz sea salt caramel ice cream, in addition to keeping you from scoring that promotion.
So what's one to do when you're just too intense at work? For my legions of recovering corporate overachievers, here are a few tips I picked up along the way to dial down the intensity:
Focus on productivity, not perfection.
Most overachievers are perfectionists, especially in the workplace. Which also means they tend to be under stronger pressure with deadline-driven projects, and ad hoc demands of all kinds. When things tend to get increasingly busy, productivity matters a whole lot more than perfection. So although you may want to dot all your I's and make sure you picked your favorite font, producing that report in time for the team meeting is actually a lot more important.
Dial down on the people-pleasing obsession.
Overachievers want to please everyone. The boss, the team, the colleagues, the family, the mailman. Just everyone. Which also happens to be a direct, one-way ticket to Pushover Land. While you may think you're your boss's go-to person, you may just actually have "worker bee" written all over your forehead. It may be high time to grow some backbone, learn to say "no" and ask for the help you need so you can focus on your duties, not everyone else's.
Strategize instead of just working hard.
For the longest time, I thought hard work was the solution to success, along with long hours and a solid dose of "face time." But I was wrong. There's a difference between overachievers and high-performers. The latter think strategically to position themselves and their companies to achieve victory. The overachievers focus on doing as much as possible. Instead of trying to shove as much work down your corporate brain as possible, think about strategizing and actually doing the work that allows you to get the fulfillment, advancement and balance you want.
Are you too intense at work? Or do you know someone who is? What other tips would you have for them?
Want to perfect your productivity even more? Here are 4 strategies that can help you get that to-do list under control.
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