5 Reasons You Are Working Overtime, How To Fix?

Reasons You Are Working Overtime

Working overtime is Something your boss appreciates about you. You are committed to the cause and willing to do whatever you can to get things done.

But what about your life outside work?

Your family, your better half, your friends.

You should be able to have personal time, time to spend with people close to you.

This goes if you are your own boss or an employee.

We are all slaves to Something. Most are slaves to a job. That 8-hour-a-day job easily goes to 10-12 hours a day. In some cases, 15 hours a day.

But when its time to fix this? To get more time for yourself?

I was just like that, working long hours, thinking that was the path to success. Sure we all want to be successful.

But it all changed when I realised there were 5 reasons for keeping me in the office longer than I should have.

After learning the lessons, I was able to do the same output but with less time.

I am going to share with you the reasons:

1- You Do Not Have A Plan To Finish The Job

If you are reading this, the chances are that you are highly educated and very conscious of the idea that you are overworked.

There are external and internal factors to this issue.

One internal issue is that you usually do not have a daily plan. You have multiple tasks you need to finish but no idea which to start first and how many you can accomplish in one day. So you start one task aimlessly, and suddenly, it is 5 PM, and you realise you have accomplished nothing.

We all believe we are very good at multitasking and can do multiple things simultaneously, but I’m afraid that’s not right.

We start multiple tasks in the name of productivity and multitasking but finish non and what we do is usually not our finest work. Do not believe me, then read Why We Cannot Multitask? Take a Multitasking Test.

How to plan your tasks?

Realistically, there are not enough hours in the day to do more than 3-4 tasks; maybe 5 tasks a day which is a stretch but possible; beyond that, you are just overworking yourself and more likely to work overtime.

Before the start of the day, plan to do the most 3 critical tasks first (These are the tasks that can not wait).

If you finish it early, great you can do another task (non-essential tasks) or leave early.

If you organise your day with a plan to do the most critical 3-5 tasks of the day, you are more likely to decrease your chances of working overtime.

2- You Are Not Managing Your Time Effectively

Reasons You Are Working Overtime

We all like to believe we are super creative.

We let our brain drift, and we lose track of time thinking about things that are not related to work.

We spend half an hour looking at our phones, scrolling feeds. Then check out Something you want to buy online. Suddenly, you look at the watch, and it’s lunchtime, but you have not done anything yet!!!

You ask yourself how am I going to finish my work and leave? You start stressing about your tasks and are likely to work overtime.

You think you should be more time conscious, but you repeat the same cycle every week.

Where is the issue? You are not time conscious.

How to manage your time effectively?

You can set hourly goals, but you can also remove distractions when working on difficult tasks.

In most cases, college gossip, checking your messages, or answering phone calls distracts us. You can ignore it or let it steal your precious time.

Things such as muting notifications for 2 hours, putting your headphones on so you stop listening to other people talking or booking 2 hours of your outlook calendar as a meeting or changing status as busy for people to stop bothering you with messages on slack.

The more distractions you remove, the more you realise you have enough time to do your job on time without working overtime.

The more time conscious you become, the fewer distractions you have.

3- You Are A Perfectionist

Perfectionism usually does more harm than good to people.

For a few reasons:

The first is the obvious one; you take longer than you should and thus work overtime.

Second, you are less likely to seek help from others because you believe you can do things on your own, which makes it more likely to make mistakes.

Perfectionism is a disease. You seek to go above and beyond what is required by going the extra mile every time.

While in some cases, it is good to be a perfectionist if you want to impress someone. However, there are times when you have to accept that it will just take a long time, and help from a college can make a difference.

You should aim to be a realist, not a perfectionist

Because realistic people do exactly what is asked of them.

Sometimes they go beyond to impress someone. But most of the time, they aim to do things to the best of their ability. Perfectionism comes with time after they have done the same task over and over; a perfect job happens naturally, not by working longer hours.

4- Not Speaking Up When You Are Overworked

Reasons You Are Working Overtime

You are most likely very good at your job.

You bring value to your workplace, which is why you are valuable.

But there is an issue when you work super hard and say yes to every demand your boss makes without even negotiating what actually needs to be done.

You might even be someone who has been in this position for a long time, so you know better than your boss at this point.

You might think your boss is demanding, but this is an internal issue.

You might be too nice to admit there is a better way to do things that will cut on time, cost and effort.

There are two negative sides to not speaking up. Your boss thinks you are a superman and can do whatever they ask of you. The second is that they have no respect for you.

Your issue is what you think is your best quality, which is being nice.

How to stop being nice?

Speak up when you feel that things can be done differently.

If you are constantly working overtime because of the number of tasks you are doing daily, you should talk to your boss about it.

Say Something like, ” On average, I am working 12 hours a week which is more than what was agreed upon in my contract; I know some tasks are very important, so I am suggesting hiring someone else to assist me”.

Saying Something like that shows that you are not okay with working long hours, but you are also offering a solution, not just stating the problem. This will signal that you are unhappy with this arrangement and demand your rights.

If, for example, you realise that there is a better way to do certain tasks that will save time and effort, you should say Something like, ” I have been working in this position for a while, and I realised that I can do this task in a different way that can save time and money” and explain the task.

“Are you happy if I can do it differently for one week as a trial and see how much time it can cut on time and effort” Something like that shows you are taking the initiative to change things but also asking for permission.

There are many other things that you can do to change your boss’s thinking to cut down your hours, which is a topic by itself you can read about in detail here: 4 Ways To Deal With Bosses Who Make Us Jump Through Hoops.

5- Not Taking Ownership Of Your Work

Not taking ownership means letting others control your actions, your time and the quality of your work.

This is a simple case of being a follower instead of taking ownership.

Ideally, if you have been in a position for more than 6 months, you are more likely can do things somehow independently.

And doing things independently means you have more control and are more likely to make the process simpler for yourself but manage to keep the quality of the work. Eventually, you work fewer hours because you are not wasting time explaining everything you do to someone, who will eventually make you hate your job.

Micromanagers are usually the issue here, especially if they want to track every single step you take. From sending an email to meeting a client, they are breathing on your neck always and tracking every move.

What should you do?

You need to gain their trust and build boundaries.

Often micromanagers are people who do not trust anyone. They think they are the smartest people in the room and that no one can do things better than them.

But when you show them that you do not need their assistance as much as they think, they will start to back down, giving you more freedom with your time and making you more likely to finish your work early.

How to gain their trust?

Start small and go big.

When they give you a task, tell them Something like, “You showed me how to do this before, I think I will be okay. If I have any questions, I will come to you” This is a polite way of telling them to get lost.

If you see them approaching you, you should catch them immediately saying, “can I help you?” to ask if they need Something as if you are doing okay, and if they ask what you are doing, say I am doing well, just finishing Something. The less detail, the better.

Slowly they will stop bothering you. The more you keep things open and less focused on work, the less they will bother you. You will start taking ownership of your work and eventually work fewer hours.

For more help, read: Not Reaching Your Full Potential: 5 Ways Your Boss Is Toxic.

3 Tips To Avoid Working For More Than 8 Hours A Day

Reasons You Are Working Overtime

1- Do not Engage In Office Gossip For More Than 15 Minutes

We all like to gossip, but I have seen a 5 minutes chat turn into half an hour of gossip with your colleagues. That was a valuable time when you could have responded to an email or called a client of yours.

Things lose meaning when they take longer; that important 5 minutes business talk turns into meaningless chat that you could have talked about during lunchtime instead of wasting daylight.

When things take more than they should, politely excuse yourself as things lose meaning.

Eventually, you will realise that your colleagues are just trying to avoid work by talking nonsense. So avoid this trap.

2- Be The First One In The Office And The First One Out

Simple right? No, this takes time. Not that you can not do it, but you need to train your colleagues and employer of that pattern.

What do you accomplish by doing this? You set a pattern that you mean business and leave early because you have been here first and worked longer than anyone.

If the office hours start at 9, show up at 8, be the first one in when it’s quiet, to do the most important tasks first before everyone is in, wasting your time.

If someone wants Something from you, they better see you before 4 PM because you are out of the office by then. So set a pattern and show others that you mean business.

3- Let It Be Known That Your Time Is Very Valuable

When you deal with people, you must show them your time is more important than theirs.

If you are meeting with a client or a college for one hour, ensure that the meeting lasts only one hour. If it takes longer, excuse yourself, telling them you have another meeting soon, even if you do not have a meeting.

There are other things you can do, such as:

  • When you are setting a meeting, make sure it is booked on your calendar for a specific time and make sure you are only in the meeting for that time frame, and excuse yourself if the meeting drags on.
  • Only answer phone calls and reply to emails on specific periods during the day, and let others know that but telling them verbally or sending an email.

Slowly you will realise that you are getting enough time to focus on the most important tasks and stop working overtime.

Joseph Maloyan

Hi, this is Joseph, and I love writing about engineering and technology. Here I share my knowledge and experience on what it means to be an engineer. My goal is to make engineering relatable, understandable and fun!

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