Why overtime work is not good for you and your company?

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Are you making an extra effort to deliver a project on time or complete an urgent task? Do you need to come up early in the office or stay later after work in order to achieve this? Have you done that in several consequent days, until you manage to handle everything and then take some deserved rest after the pressure is over?

Probably everybody had experience with such situations. As soon as this is happening rarely, everything is fine. Readiness to go the extra mile distinguish us from the overage employees, right?

Well, the answer of this question is “It depends”. If you work overtime on a regular basis, then something is wrong and either you are overloaded with work or you are not working efficiently. In both cases you should do something to change the situation. Here are few reasons why.

Constant overload is a dead-end street

If you are skillful employee and deliver high quality results, there is a good chance that on your desk will land a bit more work than the overage. If the amount of work is reasonable, you will cope with it and eventually will be rewarded for the extra effort.

Unfortunately, sometimes things may get too far, especially if you are from the people who like to tell YES rather than NO when somebody asks for a favor. The number of tasks will grow and the longer you work to handle them, the more tasks you will get next time. The problem is that as long as you are working extra to compensate the overhead, people may not notice that you are actually overloaded or they may continue piling you with work because for them is easier and there are no consequences from that.

If you are on this way and you don’t take immediate action to solve the problem, there are few ways out and none of them is in yours or your company’s favor:

  • Burn out
  • Quitting your job
  • Health problems
  • Broken family
  • All of the above

I guess you don’t like these and I am sure that your boss won’t be happy as well if one of them happens, because then you are out of the game.

A good solution is to discuss the situation with your manager and colleagues and find together a solution.

Delegation of some of the tasks to others is a good option. If these tasks require specific skills that only you possess, then is a good time to share your know-how with your colleagues. This will reduce your amount of work in a long term and will increase the capabilities of your team. You will probably win a few friends as well, because helping people being better makes them happy.

Overtime work may be a sign for inefficiencies or lack of planning

If you are regularly doing overtime work, then it is good to look around for any inefficiencies that may be causing this.

Check for any “toxic” projects that are eating up your time.

  • These are projects that consume significant amount of time compared to the delivered results
  • Often such projects lack proper planning and request things chaotically or in the last moment
  • Another problem may be poor quality of deliverables that require frequent reworks
  • If you spot such projects, analyze the reasons for the inefficiency and try to change the situation

Check your priorities

  • Tasks have different priorities and effort requirements
  • If you have more work than you can handle, then prioritize and shift some it for later instead of staying late in the office
  • Find the right balance between tasks criticality, required effort and priority and then find the optimal plan for handling them
  • This will reduce the stress and increase your efficiency

Find possibilities for optimization

  • If you have to work regularly long hours, then it is good idea to track closely how you use your time.
  • Check for any optimizations that will allow you to handle tasks more efficiently
  • If you have other colleagues, that are dealing with similar work, check how they handle it
  • You will be surprise by the small tips and tricks people find in order to make their life easier and work more efficiently
  • Having a coffee with your colleagues and exchanging few ideas can make your life easier.

Working long hours is not efficient

Last but not least, have in mind that no matter how skillful you are and how many tricks you have in your bag, working very long hours is never efficient. After several hours of work, you are getting tired, you loose focus and you become slower.  Like it or not, this is the reality.

Your efficiency will decrease at the end of the day and the longer you work, the slower and less efficient you will be working. If this is not enough motivation for you to stop with the long hours of work, consider also that the more tired you are the higher is the chance that you make mistakes or cause incidents. Somebody will have to fix these problems after that and most probably this person will be you.

Your company pays you the same or higher rates for this period of inefficient work. Fixing issues requires additional effort and costs. Therefore, think twice before staying long at the office.

Many years ago, at the beginning of my career I started work as a software developer in an IT company. During the onboarding sessions, the head of our department came to welcome us. He said something that surprised most of the people in the room:

“I don’t want to see you after 19:00 o’clock in the office, unless you have a very good reason for that.”

When somebody asked why, he gave simple but very good explanation.

“If you are in the office at 19:00 o’clock, most probably you were already working at least 9-10 hours. We are software company. After so long day you are already tired and you are introducing more defects in our software than you are fixing. You are actually creating additional work instead of reducing it. And since defects are costly to fix, especially the one that are discovered later in time, we also lose money.”

Does this sound convincing?