I haven’t had the chance to write a post in almost two months. And it sucks.

On January 13, 2016 at 10:34 am I got the call from my supervisor.

“Our projects across the company are behind. We are requiring everyone to put in 50 hours workweeks at a minimum until further notice.”

“So we need to work 10 hours per day?” I asked.

“If you don’t want to do that, you could come in on the weekend. Just as long as you get in your 50 hours.”

“Fuck that.” I thought to myself.

I know many people work more hours than that. But they also make more money than me.

Broken Promise?

I chose to come to this company because it promised 40 hour work weeks and a work life balance. In return I make less money than those who chose to go to bigger companies.

It’s been a struggle.

Some days I work from 7 am to 5:30 pm (lunch is unpaid).

A couple of days last week I worked 7:45 am to 8:30 pm. All just so I could leave just a little earlier on Friday.

I place a lot of value on my free time. I am not a workaholic. I never have been and never will be.

I prefer to participate in leisurely activities to fill up my time outside of work. I play basketball and tennis. I try to read a new book every couple of weeks. And I enjoy writing on this blog.

But I haven’t been able to do that lately. Work has filled up my time. It’s made me stressed out and unhealthy.

Learning to Cope

I’ve been learning how to cope with the long work hours. The first week I didn’t get enough sleep.

The second week I binge drank on the weekend to escape from my worries. (Note to self: don’t do this.)

The third week I struggled but was able to get back into a routine and working out and reading (albeit much less than usual).

The fourth week I remembered about the power of meditation and yoga.

It hasn’t been an easy journey.

Why Do So Many Others Choose this Path?

My question is this: why do people choose to work so many hours? Are people looking to escape from their lives through work?

Maybe I’m being selfish. Maybe I should just suck it up and accept it for what it is.

Or maybe I’m not.

I don’t know the answer.

I’m still working 50 hours. Hopefully it will end soon. But who knows?

Have you had experience working long (50+ per week) hours? How did you cope with it? Did your personal life suffer?

 

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29 thoughts on “But I don’t want to work 50 hours a week

  1. People do it because they have to in some cases, because they feel obliged because everyone else is (the power of pack thinking), and some because they love their work. If you don’t fit into any of the above categories (and I didn’t) think about walking away if you can.
    Personally I did it out of a sense of obligation to the people I worked with and I didn’t want to abandon them leaving them with more work to do knowing there would be no one brought in to pick up where I left off. I think I was lucky to get away with not having a breakdown. I have learnt how little I actually need to live on if you’re being sensible and I don’t need to work the stupid hours anymore-so I don’t. It was traumatic and the time but damn obvious once I’d stepped away. I wish you well in your decision.

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    1. Thank you for the support Shona! I know what you mean about the power of pack thinking. I’ve felt guilty even leaving after a 10 hour day sometimes because other co-workers were still there working on their projects. Luckily we are getting close to finishing up some of these big projects, hence no more 50 hours weeks. (However, I don’t see how things will be any different by this time next year…)

      I’m glad you realized what works for you and put it into action. Thanks for the comment. Have a great day!

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  2. No way. Although, it’s available at a tempting rate, it’s not mandatory. There is no amount of money that can persuade me to work more than my current 37.5 hours a week. I feel your pain and hopefully this will all be behind you soon. –W38

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  3. Ironically, I too have not posted on my blog in the last two months (just signing on tonight to do so and seeing your post in my feed) – the reason being quite similar to yours.

    I began a new job at the end of the year and it has been quite an adjustment. It requires a long, difficult commute which, on a good day, takes 1.5 hours each way and on a not so good day can take up to 2.5 hours. Then there’s the 9-10 hours at the office (without any formal break or leaving the high-rise)… it is with a great team of folks, but at the same time, comes with a very high level of stress and the expectation of my being connected 24/7.

    Work/Life balance is extremely important to me. This current situation allows for little of that and indeed, life outside of the cubicle has taken a a nose dive. By the time I arrive home each night I have little energy left to do anything beyond having a bit of dinner and crashing (but not before checking emails a few times).

    The weekends are sacred, and although I do my best to spend them wisely and focus my attention towards family, friends and my creative loves, it is only 48 hours in which to cram everything I didn’t have time to do during the week and, by the time it gets here I’m so tired, that my To Do List constantly gets rearranged because I feel the need to nap.

    I have begun reading some books on meditation practices and stone therapy which are helping a bit to reduce the noise/stress from the day and help me feel more centered and peace-filled.

    Like you and so many others, I can’t afford not to work. I’m grateful to have a job and take pride in the work that I do. At the same time, I feel at a loss spending nearly 24 hours a week commuting (I drive myself vs. public transportation)… and if one more person suggests audio books I think I’ll scream! Those hours are lost time and stressful (I’m in LA, the gridlock capitol of the world!)… On a daily basis I ponder taking a risk and walking away…

    Life is short… we all have ‘stuff’ to deal with… rarely does anyone find a perfect fit… personally, professionally… but I have witnessed many who have gone after something that they love to do and been successful at it… and that, in itself, however difficult or scary it may be, can offer a person the most precious gifts one could ever hope to receive in t his life. I can’t help but wonder… if they can do it, why can’t I? And what it comes down to is making a choice.

    I wish you well as you make your way through your current rough patch and long hours and hope that we both find our way to something that brings the balance we seek. Follow your instinct… trust your intuition… and do what’s right for you.

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    1. What a crazy coincidence that you signed in while my post was there!

      I feel for you. I complain, but on the bright side my commute is only about 20 minutes one way. I really don’t enjoy driving that much, so I couldn’t imagine being in traffic 3 or 4 hours per day. Audiobooks are useful, but as you probably know they get old after a while.

      I really value my work/life balance too as you can tell. I’m glad you are able to channel a lot of energy on the weekends with your friends and family and other creative endeavors.

      Do you have interest in entrepreneurship at all? When I started working a couple of years ago, I would listen to podcasts and audiobooks related to entrepreneurship and tried to absorb everything I could. Only now am I starting to reap the benefits of that time spent learning as I’ve got a little side business going on making me a couple hundred dollars a week extra.

      Are there any other options for you out there that would give you a little better work/life balance? I just couldn’t imagine spending all that time working/commuting. Maybe stick it out at your job now and keep your eye out for other opportunities? Sorry I’m not more help!

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    1. We are getting close to going back to a normal 40 hour week soon!

      Thanks for you support, I really appreciate it!

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  4. 50 hours is brutal, especially if you did not voluntarily chose it. I hope your supervisors understand that more hours do not equate productivity. If anything, research has shown that overtime over prolonged periods = decreased productivity. In the meantime, look after yourself and keep yourself sane. Best wishes from my side of the world.

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    1. No doubt about it! By the time I get to about 8 hours in my brain is fried. Luckily the longer hours seem to be winding down and we’ll be back to a normal week soon enough.

      Thanks for your comment. Have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The longest I have worked was from 06h00 till 01h00 every morning for a week in order to get a project completed. My hours at the moment are 07h00 till 16h00, but most often I’m here till 17h00 just to try and get more done. It’s difficult, especially when I have a family waiting for me, but sometimes you just got to do what you got to do. I love my job and I know when I put in the hard work I get rewarded; not with money, but with time off, but it’s also just the satisfaction of knowing I’ve done all I can do the best I know how. It can be really draining though and it definately has a negative impact on your home life if it goes on too long. In saying that, working long hours to get a project done is one thing, working long hours for an extended period with no end in sight means you are probably being taken advantage of and you need to take steps to stop it.

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    1. This is very true. Luckily it wasn’t a long-term thing as we are slowly starting to settle back into a normal week. But I still have a lot on my plate that I want to help finish up, but I’ll be able to relax once I knock out those things!

      Thanks for your comment. Have a great day!

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  6. I left teaching for his very reason. We may have long holidays and theoretically be able to leave by 4pm each day, but that’s the rose coloured view. Invariably, myself and colleges would be in school from 7am, leave at 5.30pm, work through lunch to mark and then prepare the afternoon. At home, further marking, planning and prep could see you working until 11.30pm each night. Reports would push that into the early hours. Then holidays, they are half what the children get in reality as you have further planning etc to do for the next term.
    It impacted severely on my social life and on my relationship – we would have to plan ahead by months in order to have one night out. My friend, who still teaches and lives out of town, frequently marks essays on her knee in the car (whilst her partner drives!) just in order to see her family. It’s ridiculous.
    So I made a decision to leave. I took a pay cut of more than half and even though we struggled as my partner was out of work for some of the time, we made adjustments to get out life back. Money isn’t everything. In my opinion, as long as you can pay the bills and have a small amount to put aside, that’s all you need. We’re lucky I guess that we have hobbies that don’t cost a lot of money (if anything). So I totally understand where you’re coming from, even if others think it’s madness to want a balance!

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    1. God bless teachers. I don’t know how you all could do it! I can’t believe you put in those kind of hours. Many people think teachers work less hours and have summers off, but I’ve learned over the past few years that couldn’t be further from the truth.

      I’m glad that you were able to find something else, even if it is for less money. As you said, money isn’t everything. There’s only so much stuff you need to buy. As long as you cover what you need and are happy with where you’re at that’s all that matters!

      Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I used to work 7am to 7pm shifts (60hrs a week). I billed sick people who came into the ER. Blessed to not be doing that anymore. Totally happy working from home now 🙂

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    1. Hey Carina thanks for the comment! (Sorry, I’m just getting to checking my blog in a couple weeks). I’m glad you found something that gives you the freedom to work from home and makes you happy! Have a great day 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree that some people have to work the long hours, depending on many factors and family dynamics. But I also think that many people fall for the false idea that being tired & overworked is a measure of success and productivity. How much more productive can your boss expect you to be if you’re tired, hungry, and passed off! I find it sad because then those same people have no time, or energy left, to do self work and reflection. They numb themselves with alcohol or overeating. They end of coasting through life. It is a difficult balance and I hope more people find a way to make more time for themselves and the things that bring them joy. Then who knows, they may even be more productive and happy at work.
    Hope things have settled for you Justin.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Captain!

      I agree with you and it makes me disappointed to see so many people just powering through work as if that is all there is to life.

      Self work and reflection is so important in my personal life and we both recognize the benefits of doing so. I find that this helps improve my work life and my personal life making me a much happier person.

      Thanks for the comment, have a great day!

      Like

      1. I think Captain Yogi is partly right. There is definitely a culture in which “I worked the most hours” is a badge of honor. But I also think that with the proliferation of mobile devices and the ability to telecommute, companies often expect more availability from employees. I have been at my job for 16 years, always been good at it, always been productive, but the demands keep increasing to the point where I nearly fell apart last year. I took a three-month leave and negotiated what I hoped would be a better set of job responsibilities. But after three months back at the job, I was working every weekend and most nights again. I’m currently on medical leave and recovering from surgery, so we’ll see what happens when I go back, but I’m doubtful that my workplace is able to work for me anymore. I don’t want to live that way. I’m giving myself until the end of this year to see if I can keep work I generally enjoy and still have time for my family, my home, friends, and rest. If not, I think I will need to construct some kind of alternative.

        Mindfulness is one tool that I think will help me figure out what’s right for me. How does my body feel as I do this work? Do I always feel rushed? Am I finding joy and satisfaction in the work?

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Fifty hours is maddening, it is saddening too. I can somehow relate to this post and every line is spot on. Almost felt like i was talking to myself in the mind. But then life pushes us to do things that are out of our control, happiness truly lies if you make a job out of your passion. – Cezane

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    1. Agreed! I think many folks are like me and you. This helps serve as motivation to keep looking for opportunities out there and not just settling on what I already have.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve been a clinical and administrative supervisor the past 4 years. I work 50 hours a week often, longer when there’s a critical incident. I balance it with Friday’s off or ‘acupuncture Wednesdays’-a favorite the past 6 months. Why do I do it? Growing up in poverty sucked. To get out of being super poor (homeless-ish, partially condemned apartment, , violent projects, donated clothes, no running hot water, it wasn’t fun) I worked my arse off. I worked all the jobs, did all the school, then climbed until I could not longer see Kool Aid packets in my future. 😉

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    1. Congratulations on all of that hard work it took for you to go from where you were to where you are today! I commend you.

      You said you like to balance it with Friday’s off, what you do enjoy to do on those days off?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Justin. I use Fridays to clean and food shop so I can enjoy Saturday and Sunday; exciting! I typically reserve one weekend day for writing but wish it could be more. How want days a week do you write?

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      2. I usually write once or twice a week. I don’t really have a set schedule too often. I find that I’m always jotting down ideas that hit me using Evernote, then when it comes time to write I’ll go with any idea that is the most appealing or relevant for me at the moment.

        Sometimes I write more, sometimes it’s less. It all depends on how motivated I am (which has been much more as of late).

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I think people (bosses in particular) underestimate the need for a rest. I’ve been in such situations quite a lot and I often found myself exhausted from lack of sleep and rest (I had to finish a certain task that required me to stay overtime / overnight and on weekends). I’m trying to become more and more strict when it comes to such things! Great post anyway!

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    1. I would agree! I think often bosses want to see “face time” in the office to show that we are “working hard” to get stuff done and meet deadlines.

      While there are certain times when a little extra time is needed, I believe it becomes a problem when a little extra time becomes the norm. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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