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As we all know a programmer just needs a computer and a network connection. When these things are available at your disposal you can program anywhere in the world.
Now this is causing me a bit of problems. Since its not necessary to work at your workplace only you are asked anytime of your vacation or week-off to help out the client on reported bug.
Also if you do enjoy doing it at your pass time, any one seeing you stare at the computer may treat you workaholic which I don't enjoy.
How do you make them realize that its not just about the work.It can be a hobby also.
In my understanding a workaholic is a person who works to earn but an enthusiast is the one who works to learn.

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My advice, do not worry about them or this opinion. Very few people enjoy what they do. –  Apoorv Khurasia Jun 2 '12 at 12:27
Programmer does not need a computer all the time. Like doctor can keep thinking about cases outside of hospital, or scientist or engineer can keep thinking without being near the tools. That what the vacations and weekends are for –  user7071 Jun 2 '12 at 13:29
Look up the term "burnout", it might not seem that it will affect you, but it will, eventually. And when it catches you, it might be enough that you will never want to work with computers again. Or, if you're lucky, you might just stop learning, self improvement, and loose motivation, productivity, joy, etc. for a long time. –  Coder Jun 2 '12 at 21:43
turn your phone off when out of the office? –  jk. Jun 21 '12 at 12:27
Your definition of workaholic is wrong. Even if you do it to learn, if all you do is: " work work work", then you're a workaholic. Try to describe what you're doing without using ANY references to WHY you're doing. Write this down on paper. Read it, and probably you'll think that the person you're reading about is a workaholic. –  Pieter B Jun 21 '12 at 14:08

7 Answers 7

up vote 27 down vote accepted

Now this is causing me a bit of problems. Since its not necessary to work at your workplace only you are asked anytime of your vacation or week-off to help out the client on reported bug.

If your employer or client is contacting you while you're on vacation, you're not really on vacation. It's fine to be reachable in case something really important comes up, but contacting you should be a last resort. It's important to periodically step away from your job and not have to worry about what's going on back at the office. If you can't or won't do that, then the workaholic tag may be deserved.

How do you make them realize that its not just about the work. It can be a hobby also.

Sure, it can be a hobby. But if your employer is calling or emailing you about fixing a bug, that's not a hobby, that's a job. If you're working on your own stuff and you find it enjoyable and relaxing, especially if you're on your own, that's somewhat different. Just remember:

  • to give yourself some time away from the computer altogether
  • that there's a whole world out there that you can explore without a keyboard
  • that your laptop is rather like a wall between you and the real world
  • that the people around you (significant other, kids, parents, friends) would like to spend some time with you minus the computer
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If your work is negatively affecting your health or relationships with other people, you have a problem. This is much worse than any labeling.

Just because you enjoy your job is no reason to be taken advantage of, so make sure you are being compensated. You may not need the money right now, but your employer needs to show some accountability. Donate the extra cash as you see fit. Also, you may not have this job forever. You need people to value what you do. They may be giving the recommendation for your next job.

Don't feel guility for enjoying what you do, just don't allow other aspects of you life to suffer.

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If you are working on a vacation, then it is not a vacation.

If you are working on a day off, then it is not a day off.

If you are working when you should be learning something new, your not learning.

If you never take vacations, days off or learn anything new it sounds to me like you are a workaholic. Denial, is a classic symptom of addiction.

If you don't like being called a workaholic, then you should stop being one.

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I disagree: If you're working something you enjoy, you're not working. Programmers' hobby projects are still valuable and sometimes even 'marketable', doesn't mean you're really working. –  K.Steff Jun 2 '12 at 13:20
If your boss is calling you up on your day off and telling you which 'hobby' you should be working on, it's not a hobby... You need to learn how to say no. "I'll get on that first thing in the morning" or "I'm in the middle of something right now, can this waiting until business hours?" –  Jay Jun 2 '12 at 13:25

Do you enjoy what you do?


Why care what labels others put on you?

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Why care? Because they might be right. –  Caleb Jun 2 '12 at 13:03
Also because how your bosses and coworkers see you, even if their perceptions are superficial or misguided, has a direct bearing on your career. –  Alex P Jun 2 '12 at 13:05
@Caleb I said labels. And labels are never right. Just stereotypes defined by others. –  Darknight Jun 2 '12 at 19:55
@Darknight: Labels are never right? –  Jim G. Jun 22 '12 at 3:21
in the context of stereotyping yes :) –  Darknight Jun 22 '12 at 8:13

I've found that one of the best ways to avoid being a "workaholic" is to make sure that you have a lot of different kinds of interests, and that you allow yourself time to explore those interests, and share those interests with different groups of people. (I like to keep my work pretty separated, so I don't get sucked into work politics, and if I change jobs, I don't lose contact with all my friends.) I socialize mostly with people who are involved in my different interests (cooking, rowing, dancing, quilting, sports).

Consider that perhaps you should develop some interests that don't involve computers. It's too easy to spend all of your hours doing essentially the same thing (sitting in front of a computer), and to not have real face to face contact with friends and family. Even if you're an introvert, you can find things to do (I like to knit, which is solitary, but I can do it anywhere) that don't involve typing or screen time that enhance your life, allow you to master a new skill, etc, but don't immediately relate to software.

It sounds like you need to consciously set aside time to be away from computers, but you aren't sure what to do that doesn't involve the computer. Personally, I'd suggest something that involves physical movement, or being outside, or in a completely different environment. Your willingness to respond to work when you're not working suggests that you like being needed, and that perhaps you should work to develop more relationships outside of work that help you feel valued.

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If you enjoy your productive thinking, but stuck near workstation. Take small steps.

First, while sitting at the computer, pick a piece of paper and try to draw your workpiece on it with a pencil, as a diagram with few boxes and arrows.

Second, step one step away from computer and use white board while explaining thing to yourself and to your teammate. That will break the habit of actively thinking only while you sit.

Third, walk to other person and involve yourself into discussion of work piece, but do not use paper or whiteboard, use only some handwaving. The same can be tried outside the work space.

At last you will notice that you can push some of analytical tasks into background of your brain enjoying off-work hours as everybody else.

Ideally, you will develop a special skill of superpowerful thinking. When you will talk to somebody who is not involved into matters of your business, like car mechanic or a dog or big boss, in a middle of small talk conversations you will suddenly find rare and striking realiziations of problems you kept thinking about.

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Say "no" to some requests.

You don't need to have a good reason or excuse, just say "no."

Ideally, this will be for something that truly can wait until your scheduled working hours, or can be addressed by somebody else.

Then, you will have the reputation of someone who occasionally says "no" and enforces boundaries between work and personal life, rather than the workaholic who can always be leaned on even when not at work.

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