Are Your Overtime Hours Productive?

Often times, we strive to work late. We’d rather stay at the office to get one last thing done, instead of leaving before our boss does. But, let’s think about it. If you’re staying late every night or coming in early every morning, what are you really getting accomplished?

If you’re like most of us, the answer is not much. Sure, it may feel like you’ve accomplished a lot by working until 3am, but unless it’s for a big project you’re working on, you’re probably just checking off busy work. One of the major factors in business is making connections and talking things through. Who’s awake at 3am that you can talk to?

So, what is it that causes people to work overtime? It may make you look like you’re super busy at work and doing your best to keep ahead of the game. If you’re an hourly employee, it may also be bringing in a bit of extra cash on your next paycheck. Most employers however, would be pretty disappointed to know that the majority of the $18 an hour pay is just so you can check your e-mails and fill out paperwork that was due last week.

More Hours = More Work

That’s the assumption we all live on, but it’s not really true. Statistically speaking, most of your overtime hours could be cut by budgeting your time.

Many people are working over and above 40 hours to get some of the more menial aspects of their jobs done. After all, once normal business hours are over, it can be difficult to make the connections and set the appointments that are so important to expanding your business.

The 80/20 Rule

Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? It applies to almost everything, both in business and in life. In this case, about 20% of what you do during the day is going to produce 80% of your results. If you can find the 20% of your work that really makes up your job, protect it and try to expand. You’ll suddenly find yourself much more productive.

What Makes You Productive?

There are a few things that contribute to making yourself more productive during your 40 hour work week. Numerous studies have been conducted that pinpoint different aspects of human productivity. Guess which ones you’re missing by staying late.

  • Sleep

The simple fact: human beings don’t function well without adequate sleep. We get cranky, we can’t focus and we can’t remember things. Those are just the short term effects. Chronic lack of sleep can lead to some very serious problems including, heart disease and obesity. Getting snippy with a client isn’t going to go over very well with your boss either.

  • Socialization

Think that having Bob from accounting drop in every hour or two is making you less productive? Think again. Many companies like Google, IBM and Etsy are restructuring their offices to take advantage of the creative ideas that tend to crop up when co-workers interact. Not only are you giving your attention to something else, but you’re getting a different perspective of your company. This can be a great way to brainstorm some ideas.

  • Breaks

What do super productive people do that you don’t? They take breaks. Actually, they take a whole lot of breaks. They key is that they’re short breaks- maybe five minutes at a time. It allows people to recharge and regain their focus. This lets them get back into work mode without running on nothing.

Headache? Break time. Eyesight a bit blurry? Break. Finished that project and started something else? Break. Even two concentrated minutes of focus on your breathing is enough to give you a boost for another hour.

Some people however, are working all the overtime they can to try and add a little “umph” to their paycheck. That might be necessary at the moment, but consider an online college. The staff there may be able to give out some advice on a new career, along with the certifications you would need to achieve it. After all, you don’t want to keep working overtime forever.

The Bottom Line

While your boss may be more worried about what kind of work you’re doing, make sure you haven’t hit your bottom line. People can only go so long without sleep before it begins to affect their personal health, in addition to their productivity.

You can only neglect your home life for so long before it begins to strain your personal relationships and your health. If you’re like me, that’s the whole reason you’re working in the first place. So, take breaks, organize your day and go home. Besides, you pay for your house. You may as well live there.

About the Author

Savannah Marie is an online marketing and social media junkie. She is the editor of Mixios, which focuses on online marketing, business and social media.

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