WORKAHOLICS ANONYMOUS Spending so much time on the job that you're ruining the rest of your life? Some suggestions for managing time differently.

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Sail a paper airplane out a window these days and you're likely to hit a person rushing to or from a gathering devoted to helping those in the grip of some sort of addiction. So-called 12-step programs modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous (''Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol . . .'') are available for overeaters, gamblers, druggies, debtors, even those who put sex ahead of an otherwise healthy life. All the more telling, then, that one group of compulsives appears to have been left out: workaholics. Where are the organizations dedicated to their recovery? ''Aw c'mon,'' you say. ''Hard work an addiction? So American managers are putting in longer hours. What are they supposed to do in the face of'' -- solemn tones here -- ''global competition, restructuring, downsizing, and deregulation? Why, I myself put in my share of 12-hour days.'' (Is that a slight swelling of the pin-striped chest?) ''What does that make me, other than . . . a winner?'' It could, just possibly, make you ever so slightly behind the times. Says Jerzy Zderkowski, a management professor at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, who recently did a study of workaholics: ''A lot of people want to rearrange their goals. Some 80% of females and 70% of males say they want more time with family. Professionals have to work longer hours, and don't like it. Something is missing.'' CHANGING those hardworking habits won't be easy, though. Their roots go deep in a person's psychology and circumstances. Leonard Greenhalgh, a psychologist and professor at Dartmouth's Tuck business school, offers a taxonomy of workaholics and describes the corporate perspective on each type: ''A Freudian would look at workaholism as an escape from anxiety. If somebody has a compulsion to keep busy, chances are there's something he's trying not to think about.'' Such people, Greenhalgh says, look for busywork, the most absorbing task, not necessarily the most important to the company. Others are escaping from life at home, seeking a socially acceptable excuse for avoiding problems there. ''They're looking for ways to put in time, to stretch work, which is particularly bad if you're paying them overtime.'' A third type, often the children of alcoholics, have a high need for control, for making sure all the details are right. ''These are pretty good for the company,'' Greenhalgh observes. ''They are superorganized, overcome obstacles, and are highly committed. The downside is that they're not easy to work for. They can't let others participate because they would lose a degree of control.'' If you're an employer, hold out for the fourth and last type. ''This is somebody with a low degree of self-esteem who needs to get a feeling of self- esteem from his work. Maybe his parents' approval was conditional on his doing well.'' It's not much fun being such a person, Greenhalgh says. ''He's got a chronic low-grade depression. People label him 'overly serious.' '' Still, he's got what employers want: ''He really strives to excel; he takes on challenges because he's looking for approval, particularly from higher management.'' ''Thank goodness that's not me,'' you reply. ''I work to get ahead, to keep the wolf from the door and put meat -- well, actually, chicken and pasta -- on the table. Not for me, shoveling the hours into some black hole where my self- esteem ought to be. No, I work hard'' -- hint of a triumphant smile here -- ''because I love it.'' Then, in a slightly smaller voice, ''Isn't that different?'' Can your spouse, kids, or empty apartment tell the difference? The best answer to the supposed distinction between bad workaholism (obsessive, abrasive, hurting) and good (ambitious, enthusiastic, successful) is that both can have pretty much the same effect on your life outside work. Some of the possibilities: You never see your loved ones, if you have had the time to acquire any. Leisure is no fun: When you're not working, you just feel antsy, or you turn what should be recreation into more compulsiveness -- gotta put in those three miles on the exercise bike, gotta restore this house perfectly, down to the last historically correct finial. Or you develop a nasty tendency toward what the experts call secondary addictions -- knocking back a bottle of wine or a pint of superpremium ice cream every night when you finally get home. TAKE HEART. The experts also say that while it's tough, you can break out of the workaholic syndrome. Begin by recognizing that it is your choice to put in those long days, or not: ''For the most part, a company isn't powerful enough to make a person work 60 hours a week if he doesn't want to,'' observes Gerald Graham, a management professor at Wichita State. ''Most managers putting in 70-hour weeks don't feel the boss demands it -- they are just conscientious about doing the job well.'' Conscientiousness sounds good, but shouldn't you be at least as conscientious about other parts of your life -- your children, for example? Phrases like ''rearranging priorities'' don't make the point forcefully enough. Says Roderick Gilkey, an Atlanta psychologist: ''What we're talking about is defending the family.'' Heaven knows, enough forces are conspiring against it these days, even beyond the work pressure on you. Gilkey goes on, ''You have to be prepared to make some people angry, to disappoint,'' including, just possibly, people at your company who make decisions about your career. But the damage may not be as much as you fear. The best news from real live managers who have fought workaholism is that if you are clear about what you will and won't do, and if you communicate this tenaciously, you may find the world, and your co-workers, surprisingly obliging. Like many successful nonworkaholics, Robert Gilbertson, 48, has laid down sharply defined boundaries between his professional and personal lives. The CEO of DataSwitch, a Connecticut electronics company with annual sales around $114 million, works from 8 A.M. to 7 P.M., and that's it. He doesn't take a briefcase home and discourages co-workers from phoning him there, to the extent of once firing a salesman who, after being warned, called him at home a third time. Says Gilbertson: ''I can't think of any business we've lost, or any customer who has been aggravated.'' Establishing such limits may be easier if you are chief executive, but the principle also works for those further down in the hierarchy. Consider Aline Kaplan, 42, who worked for two other computer companies before becoming director of U.S. marketing communications for Wang Laboratories: ''I set up the boundaries in every job I ever interviewed for, telling the company at the outset that I had children and that I couldn't work more than eight or nine hours a day. I've never been turned down for a job.'' Once hired, she stuck by those boundaries: ''I haven't missed any promotions because of them.'' A few tips on boundary setting from the experts: Explicitly negotiate these matters with your boss. Try to get her or him to focus on the results you achieve, not on how long your furrowed visage is seen hanging out at the office. Here it helps immeasurably to be in the right kind of job, one clearly tied to the bottom line. Notes Wichita State's Graham: ''If you are a product manager and have increased your product's market share for three years in a row, nobody can hold it against you if you don't come in on Saturday.'' In walling off work from the rest of your life, don't be above mechanistic, even seemingly simple-minded, rules. ''Never work at home,'' advises Clark McCauley, a psychology professor at Bryn Mawr. ''But if you do work at home, work in only one room. When you're not in that room, you're not working.'' Once you have set boundaries and communicated these to others, abide by them ruthlessly. If you have made clear that you leave every day at six, do so, with a crisp ''Excuse me, I have to go.'' No defensiveness, no apologies, no ''Gee I wish I could stay but . . .'' As just about every female manager who has returned to the job after having a baby will attest, you can probably do your work more efficiently. The biggest gains are to be realized not from nickel-and-dime improvements -- the egg timer by the phone -- but from redesigning how you do things. Must all those people report to you? Which daily (weekly, monthly) meetings do you really need? Rededicate yourself to the hoary chestnuts of time management: Figure out your on-the-job priorities. List the things you need to do. Keep track of how you spend your time -- when you're efficient, when merely wasteful. Minimize the number of times you take up any piece of paper. Delegate, delegate. The new, more disciplined you may find yourself making do with fewer amenities -- lunch out, for example. John Johnson, head of the Lamalie Associates executive search firm, reports that some managerial friends are cutting back on reading the business and trade press. (Be very selective about this.) They have also discovered that God will not strike dead those who fail to return every telephone call. If you are a hard-core workaholic, with years of rat-on-the-treadmill behind you, such measures probably won't be enough, even if you can bring yourself to try them. You may need, as they say, some counseling. In addition, as any veteran of Alcoholics Anonymous knows, organized support from others -- listening, talking up better habits, consoling if you stumble -- can be an invaluable aid. Maybe your family, or a friend, would like to volunteer. AS ENCOURAGEMENT to yourself, hold up the prospect of all you stand to gain. The change may make you a better manager, less uptight, more creative -- dreaming takes unstructured time -- and willing to entertain the new. You will have achieved a certain independence: Look to other areas of your life as sources of that highly sought-after commodity, self-esteem, and you won't have to rely as much on your company's judgment. John Thompson, a psychology professor at Ohio's Oberlin College, enumerates a few of the other benefits: ''You will have the opportunity to love, to be with people, and to sense existence,'' rather than merely rushing through it on the way to the grave.