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Workaholic vs. High Performer: Which Are You?

For professionals today, hard work is often celebrated as an accomplishment, and many people want to be the type of employee who is lauded for their work. However, there are actually two distinct types of hard workers in the office: a workaholic and a high performer. While these two types of employees may look the same at a glance, they actually operate quite differently. How can you tell which one you are? Ask yourself these questions throughout your work day:

Do you know your value?

One key difference between a workaholic and a high performer is that a workaholic allows others to determine their value to the business. Meanwhile, a high performer knows what their time is worth to others. For example, have you ever turned down a task because you knew it wasn’t a valuable use of your time?

A workaholic would simply accept the task and continue to do more work regardless of its value, essentially allowing others to determine the value of their time. A high performer would turn down a task or prioritize it accordingly, letting others know that they have more valuable tasks to attend to.

Do you create your own feedback loops?

A high performer doesn’t simply wait for others to provide feedback; they work to improve on their own as well. While you may rely on someone else to critique your work, have you ever critiqued your own work? Taking a few minutes to skim a document again or google an answer can help you improve at a faster rate. When high performers take these small steps toward improving, they’re more likely to find ways that they can work more effectively and save themselves some time.

Do you prioritize well?

A workaholic often has difficulty prioritizing their tasks; in other words, everything is important. This type of working style leads to a couple of different problems: for starters, your most important tasks are not getting done first, meaning you may have to work more hours to get them done on time. Second, it means that you’re using valuable energy on less important tasks rather than saving your energy for when you really need it.

While a workaholic will give 110% all the time, high performers usually save their energy, only giving 100% at the right time. Without conserving your energy, you’ll likely get burned out quickly.

Are you busy or productive?

A high performer not only knows what their time is worth, but they also know what their effort is worth toward business goals. For example, consider how your tasks directly affect the company’s goals. It’s not just about prioritizing, but also understanding the bigger picture.

A workaholic will do a task simply to stay busy, but a high performer will examine beyond the optics of “looking busy” and consider how this benefits the company’s goals before spending their energy on it.

Are you reactive or proactive?

A workaholic is often too caught up in their tasks to think ahead. This often leads to them being caught off-guard with more work. However, a high performer will plan ahead, knowing that their day might get derailed with other to-do items.