Don’t OD on OT!

Excessive OT or overtime at work is not proof that you’re a good employee and that you deserve that promotion. Mostly, the only thing it’s doing for you is putting your health and relationships at risk (and let’s not forget burnout!). Here’s how to put your foot down and start saying “NO” to overtime.

by Mabie Alagbate, 20 June 2017

Landing your dream job is great, but being able to have a healthy work-life balance is so much better. A lot of people tend to overwork themselves, thinking that the more time they spend at the office, the better their chances of moving up the corporate ladder is. While there may be some merit to that, in the long run, doing overtime on a regular basis is actually doing you more harm than good. Here are a few things you need to consider when clocking in extra hours at work.

Anything in Excess is Bad

First of all, it’s bound to take a toll on your health sooner or later. You’re not likely to get enough rest when you go home late and report for work early the next day. If you don’t allow your body to recover, you’re increasing your vulnerability to contracting illnesses, which will render you unable to work. Another thing you should look out for when doing excessive OT is the time with your loved ones that you are sacrificing. But perhaps the biggest negative effect that you may not realize is that you’re making yourself too available for your boss or company. Don’t be surprised if one day, they expect you to simply come in even on weekends, or extend your hours even more. Cut the cycle before it gets worse. .

Getting Tired Easily

We all get tired, especially after a long day’s work, but it’s quite different if you get tired while doing things that didn’t bother you before. A good indicator is climbing stairs. If you’re usually out of breath when you get to the top of the staircase, your body could be telling you to go the doctor. Running out of breath while climbing up the stairs may be a symptom of a heart condition, or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) like emphysema or chronic bronchitis.

Set Boundaries on Your Time

If you want other people to respect your time, you have to set the example for it. While it’s impressive that you’re always the first one in and the last person out, it’s promoting the perception that this is simply a part of your routine. Well, maybe it is, but the point is that you don’t always have to show them that you’re that available. Otherwise, you’ll end up doing overtime work for the rest of your stay in the company. Try making it a habit to clock in on the dot, and then leave on the dot. You don’t have to feel guilty about it for as long as you know that you did what you were supposed to do within the prescribed regular hours. By setting boundaries on your time, you’re actually showing them that you are able to manage your time well.

Clarify Roles

Sure, you’ll have to be a team player if you want to progress in your company. However, if you’re clocking in more hours because you need to do the work that someone else was supposed to do, say no. It’s going to be nerve-wracking—understandably. But remember, it’s all about putting your foot down so you don’t get sucked into the black hole of never-ending excessive OT.

Honor Your Calendar

Sometimes, overtime means coming in on weekends, instead of staying past your shift. Remember, this is all about being firm in your resolve of breaking the cycle of excessive OT. If you’ve done a good number of hours and extra work the past week, and you have your weekend off, keep your weekend off limits to work. This is especially crucial if you already have plans. Have a standing policy during weekends that unless it is an absolute emergency, you will not be opening your office email. Set boundaries and implement them seriously. That’s the only way your company or boss will get the signal that you are serious about prioritizing your wellness by keeping your work-life balance intact.