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Holidays With the BlackBerry: Are You a Workaholic?

Friday, 31 Dec 2010 | 11:36 AM ET

Did you spend the holidays with a glass of egg nog in one hand and your BlackBerry in the other? You sir, just may be a workaholic!

Frederic Cirou | Getty Images

The holidays are a time meant for relaxing but thanks to mobile wonders like the BlackBerry and iPhone , they’ve also become a time for checking your email on the sly and hoping your family and friends either won’t notice or will forgive you.

A recent CareerBuilder survey found that 24 percent of workers think about work when they’re at home or out socially. Nineteen percent said they dream about work and 16 percent said most of their conversations, at work, home or out socially, tend to focus on work.

“With increased demands at the office and greater accessibility through mobile devices, the workday literally never ends for some workers,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder.

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It gets worse: 22 percent said they don’t have time to pursue personal interests because they work too much and 26 percent said they have experienced some health issues tied to job stress. Stress can lead to frequent colds, heartburn, ulcers, obesity, heart problems and here’s the one that may scare you the most — reduced work efficiency or productivity.

“While a strong work ethic is valued, a lack of balance with your personal life can ultimately work against you in the long run. As the year wraps up, take inventory of your personal time and see where you need to make adjustments in 2011,” she advised.

So, how do you know if you’re a workaholic? Here are 20 questions from Workaholics Anonymous:

1. Do you get more excited about your work than about family or anything else?
2. Are there times when you can charge through your work and other times when you can't?
3. Do you take work with you to bed? On weekends? On vacation?
4. Is work the activity you like to do best and talk about most?
5. Do you work more than 40 hours a week?
6. Do you turn your hobbies into money-making ventures?
7. Do you take complete responsibility for the outcome of your work efforts?
8. Have your family or friends given up expecting you on time?
9. Do you take on extra work because you are concerned that it won't otherwise get done?
10. Do you underestimate how long a project will take and then rush to complete it?
11. Do you believe that it is okay to work long hours if you love what you are doing?
12. Do you get impatient with people who have other priorities besides work?
13. Are you afraid that if you don't work hard you will lose your job or be a failure?
14. Is the future a constant worry for you even when things are going very well?
15. Do you do things energetically and competitively, including play?
16. Do you get irritated when people ask you to stop doing your work in order to do something else?
17. Have your long hours hurt your family or other relationships?
18. Do you think about your work while driving, falling asleep or when others are talking?
19. Do you work or read during meals?
20. Do you believe that more money will solve the other problems in your life?

Additionally, if you’ve ever kissed the dog on your way out the door and patted your wife on the head, you may be a workaholic. If you’ve ever jumped in the car with a sippy cup, and later realized that you left a travel mug of coffee for the baby, you may be a workaholic. And if you’ve ever answered a call on your home phone by stating your first and last name, you are almost definitely a workaholic.

If you answered “yes” to three or more of the above questions, you are probably a workaholic. But you probably already knew that. The real question is, what do you do now?

Shutting down the Outlook calendar isn’t an option — you’d surely spontaneously combust — but try to schedule time in your Outlook calendar for friends and loved ones, or even just time for yourself, Haefner suggests. It may feel silly at first, but it will help make sure you're there. (The reminder helps!)

Workaholics Anonymous preaches "abstinence"— No, not abstaining from work but abstaining from compulsive work and compulsive thinking about work.

Maybe start with baby steps — Give yourself a "time out," a set time period when you agree to not check your email.

OK, show of hands please, who here needs a time out?!

That's what I thought!

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  • Cindy Perman is a writer at CNBC.com, covering jobs, real estate, retirement and personal finance.

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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