Overtime Is Killing You… Slowly

If you work in the tech industry, more specifically as a developer (software or web) you are slowly dying from a disease commonly known as: overtime.

There is no cure for overtime other than something called common sense. It comes in many different forms, but for many including myself, it can be a hard pill to swallow when a deadline is looming or a culture of overtime is prevalent. When the company comes to expect overtime, in this economy you have two choices: deal with it and hope you do not burn out or find a new job.

Finding a new job for some can be difficult, a lot of the individual economies that make up the world economy are falling apart. Spain has an unemployment rate of around 25%, the UK around 6.5%. This leaves you with the choice of working incredibly long hours for a fixed salary with no extra benefits, which for some with families to provide for can make it even harder to deal with.

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • But I have to stay back to finish this deadline or I will lose my job.
  • I want to deliver great code, so I can warrant the extra time investment.
  • I am new here and I want to make a good impression, be a team player and I know if the company needs to downsize because I am new, they will look to cull me first.
  • Work said that this will not happen very often. I am only staying back for the greater good of my team and my company, it will not happen very often.
  • We want to get this project completed earlier, so we have time at the end for testing and refinements before handing it over to the client or shipping,

In the end you have to ask yourself: who does overtime truly benefit?

It does not benefit you or your team because it has been proven that after a certain amount of hours staring at a computer screen, you begin to lose focus and once you lose focus, your concentration levels go right down the toilet.

You are definitely not doing your employer any favours either. Dropped concentration levels mean you miss things, you make simple mistakes and could end up setting you and your teams progress back as you scramble to undo mistakes you made whilst fatigued. Resentment begins to grow in environments where work life balance becomes 90/10.

So the answer to the question is: it benefits nobody. It is an outdated way of thinking that the more man hours you throw at a problem, the quicker it gets solved. This is akin to slavery, and like many overworked slaves in history, it takes a toll on you and you either die or become mentally ill.

Many managers seem to operate on the principle of the more hours someone puts in, the more work you get out. This is true until a certain point. It is a little bit like dipping a tea bag in a cup of hot water, after 3 to 5 minutes of steeping in the water, it will not absorb any more tea. You could leave the tea bag in for 2 hours and it would still be no stronger than someone who left theirs in for 5 minutes.

Overtime is not just limited to sitting at your work provided desk on your work provided computer, it also extends to home-life. Working from home after hours, checking emails and losing valuable time you can spend with your family is a form of overtime we all fail to realise is just as detrimental to your health and work/life balance.

Go home, hug your wife/husband, play with your kids, see a movie, call your parents or reach out to that high-school friend you used to be great friends with and stop letting overtime kill you. You are sick, but there is hope for you yet.