The Overtime Scandal

Published: August 3, 2016
By: Faye Hollands

Do you think you’re working hard and can’t fit anymore into your day?  You’re probably wrong. 

According to a Microsoft survey, most people actually use 60% or less of their available work time which means that, whilst you might be at work five days a week, you’re probably only productivity using three of them! 

Those stats might be hard to swallow if you’re working long hours and feeling under the pump.  But it gets worse…

On top of that, a study using time diaries found that people claiming to work 60 to 69 hours per week clock an average of just over 52 hours, whilst those who believed they worked 70-80+ hours actually only totaled 58.8 hours per week.  That’s a massive difference if you’re getting home late every night and feel as though you don’t have time for a life outside of work.  Imagine what you could do with an extra 10-20 hours a week?

There are many different scenarios that contribute to these statistics, and one of them I can really relate to.  In my previous corporate life I worked in an environment where being ‘seen to be seen’ was the culture.  So I spent many evenings sitting at my desk, working pretty unproductively, just to while away the time so that I wasn’t seen to be leaving the office ‘early’ (anything before 7pm!).

Stupidly, I didn’t get anymore work done and I suppose unconsciously – because I knew I would be in the office late – the rest of my day was ineffective too because I started relying on working longer hours to get the basics done.  So you can see how suddenly a vicious circle forms, and before I knew it I was ‘one of those people’ working 60-69 hours per week but actually wasting around 10 of those hours being unproductive.

Thankfully that was in a ‘former life’ but I know for many of my friends and clients this is their reality.  However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Importantly, your first step forward is to recognise how you’re spending your time and where you’re wasting it.  Working long hours isn’t the solution to being productive and effective.  Sure, if you’ve got more on your plate than you can handle then you’re going to have to put in some extra time to get on top of things, BUT that shouldn’t be a long-term solution.

If, like the people in the Microsoft survey, you’re wasting 2 days a week being unproductive there’s a LOT of scope for change.  Some simple strategies that will help you improve the way you work include: –

  • Stop multitasking, it doesn’t work when it comes to complex, high-end tasks – read more
  • Allocate specific blocks of time for important tasks – read more
  • Simplify the way you do things to be more effective with your time – read more
  • Plan your day the night before and focus your time on Mission Critical tasks – read more
  • Stop filling your to-do list and day with time wasting tasks – read more

Significantly, stop relying on working extra hours to get your job done.  Yes, there will be occasions where you need to work overtime, but if you automatically expect your day to be longer it will be.

Your attitude to time, and your mindset play a big part in how your day pans out so if you would like create extra time in your week, or would simply like be more productive with the time you’ve got, then start changing the way you think and act when it comes to mastering your most valuable commodity.

And as for the ‘seen to be seen’ culture, you can break the mould like I did.   Have boundaries, work effectively when you’re in the office, and be confident that you’re doing a great job without needing to over-compromise.

Faye Hollands

About Faye Hollands

Faye is an accomplished Career Coach, Small Business Coach and Productivity Specialist who has successfully coached countless clients on how to create a career they love, get more done in less time, and achieve personal and professional success. To receive weekly articles to improve your career, business and time management skills click here or book your Free Focus Session here.

You can contact Faye on +61 2 8323 4335 or email fayehollands@outshineconsulting.com

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