Working Extra Hours at a Job Is the Worst Way to Waste Your Time

Desiree Peralta

The “extra miles” are a lie.

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Employees who have their schedule until 5:00 PM and it is 4:59 PM and they are already in the vehicle ready to leave, even with pending deliverables, is very difficult for them to be considered for positions of more responsibility. A team leader must have people ready to give their time 24/7. You have to go the extra mile.

I attended a work event where an “expert” explained everything you need to be the best employee in your office.

The fun part?

He didn’t talk about getting the job done.

The gurus and coach want us to believe that what it really takes to be the best in a company is to show the boss how dedicated you can be and put the company above all (including your health and freedom).

Many company bosses even demand you to work overtime for the good of the company. They make you feel that if you don’t finish something today, the company will go bankrupt tomorrow.

For me, that “extra mile” joke is nonsense.

Here I will explain why working extra at a job is useless and why overtime is, actually, holding you back.

They don’t really need you

Two months ago my boss gave me a priority task. Since I was going on vacation for almost a month, I did what I could and left everything documented so another developer could finish it.

When I returned from my vacation, the task was still assigned to me, and no one even saw it.

In the end, it was not as high a priority as they said.

Many people would have stayed up late or postponed their vacations to finish that assignment, and in the end, we would have had the same result: a task completed that was not urgent.

Bosses use the word “priority” to see how far you can go for them. If something is really urgent, they will find a way to finish it even if you are not there.

Many people believe that they are necessary for a company, but once they leave, they realize that the business continues working the same or better than when they were there.

In the end, you are not as necessary as you think.

They will not appreciate that effort you make

You may probably be thinking right now, okay, Desiree, but even if they don’t need me, they can appreciate all the sacrifices I make for them.

But no, they won't.

A few years ago, I worked for a company *only* fixing their internal Software. They obtained an external project from a client who wanted software similar to the one we used. Even though we were not a software company, the owner decided to do it because the Software was already there.

The team spent two months changing some modules and designs for that client, and in the end, we received a pizza party as a reward.

Their excuse was that since we work on that project during our job hours, this was part of the tasks we had daily.

If a company needs to cut workers, they will not think about the effort you made to complete extra things than necessary. All the effort you think you are making to get noticed will probably be worthless if they need money.

Companies don’t care about you, and they shouldn’t

The other day a friend was telling me that the company he worked for was ungrateful because they didn’t care when he quit: “I was a wonderful employee, I did things outside of my regular tasks and from time to time I left the office clean. When I quit, they didn’t try to make me stay.”

At that moment, I just nodded, and we changed the subject, but honestly, the job of a company is not to make you feel loved or happy; it is to pay you for your work.

Thomas Smith, in his article “You Don’t Need to “Cheat On Your Job” if You Never Had One in the First Place” explains why corporations don’t care about you and why they shouldn’t:

“A corporation’s only responsibility is to advance the corporation’s best interests, which often means generating as much profit as possible. As business law professor Lynn Stout explains in the New York Times, corporate case law describes directors as fiduciaries… and instructs directors to use their powers in the best interests of the company.”

I know some companies strive for the well-being of their employees, but that’s more that they must do according to the law.

What you can’t do in 8 hours, you probably won’t do in 2 more

I am a morning person. I get up at 5 in the morning, and from 2:00 pm, I have everything ready. If I had to stay in front of the pc after that hour, it would probably be wasting my time.

I know my limitations and strengths, and I am sure that going the extra mile would not make sense to me.

For this reason, I will never agree to stay after work hours.

In the first place, because if you worked the full 8 hours, then you have all the information to justify your work the next day with your boss. And second, because if you couldn’t do anything in those 8 hours (because you didn’t understand the assignment or you’re stuck with an error), then I don’t think you can do it in the last two overtime hours you took.

Several sources explain why even 8 hours is too much. So trying to do something after that is more a waste of time than a benefit for a company.

You can make more with a side hustle than working overtime

I used to work overtime at my job when I didn’t have side hustles. I’d put in up to 20 hours a week at those hours to get some extra $400–500 at the end of the month.

When the pandemic started, I decided to quit this practice and start working on something personal. Currently, I’m making 4 figures per month, working only 10 hours per week with something that is completely mine.

Those hours you dedicate extra to your work can be better used for personal projects, learning something new, resting, or investing.

In the end, that extra money is probably not as necessary as learning a new language for your future.

Oded Israeli, in his articleThat Extra Hour At Work Is Worth… Nothing,” explains how working more overtime for “money” actually doesn’t help you at all (unless you have to pay something, of course). Basically, the cost of that hour compared to doing anything else don’t worth the work you are doing there.

If you’re a salaried worker then over time could account for nothing or very little financially. — Oded Israeli

So if you don’t need the money for something specific, having more money in your savings account by working overtime is really slowing down your real progress in other areas of your life.

Final thoughts

In the last interview I had, The woman asked me if I was okay with working overtime if necessary. I told them that as long as the requirements are well documented, the company is organized, and I do the work I have to do, there will be no overtime.

She said it was the most accurate answer they had given her in the last years since many employees lie, saying that they give everything for the company, and then they do not want to stay working after hours.

The extra miles and overtime are a way for the employer to legally exploit its employees without realistic compensation and probably the worst way to waste your time.

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Turning ideas into reality. Programmer by profession, Writer by passion. Writing, productivity, and self-development advice.

Yonkers, NY
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