DIY

Going the extra mile just wears you -- and your shoes -- out


I've spoken about the work/life balance before. It is so easy to fall into the trap of working continuously, squeezing just one more job in instead of stopping for lunch, going to one more call on the way home, setting out an hour earlier in the morning to beat the traffic, it all eats into your time. Perhaps I should capitalise: YOUR TIME.

Before you know it a 40-hour week has grown into a 50- or 60-hour week, you get more tired, you become less effective, more stressed, less able to deal with "difficult" customers -- and it's strange that, the more tired you get, the more "difficult" the customers are. Maybe the stress transmits from you to them without you realising. Stress can make you ill, it makes you more susceptible to viruses and reduces the effectiveness of your body's immune system.

So what's to be done? First thing to do is to remember that nobody ever got a medal for overworking. Secondly, if you upset too many customers your boss will consider getting rid of you. The most important person in the whole deal is YOU. The customer comes second after your personal health and sanity. Going the extra mile just wears your shoes out. The customer expectation needs to be managed properly. They should not expect you to drop everything and come running, they should expect you to arrive at the first possible opportunity but there is always the proviso that ‘possible' should be defined as the opportunity that presents itself once your own safety and comfort has been taken care of.

If you are fit and well and free of stress you will serve the customer better. Putting yourself first ultimately helps you to concentrate on the job in hand. Thinking clearly means that you get to the finishing post without having to go the extra mile. You will appear to be an expert, you will make the job look effortless and impress the client with your skill and expertise.

Remember, the worker is worthy of his hire. If you live and work in a culture where the time you arrive and leave comes under scrutiny maybe you should consider a move. If you are judged on your results and rewarded for them you will have the edge of keenness that you need to succeed. If you were recruited to work a 37-hour week, work a 37-hour week. Staying behind after work to get things finished hides the problem that you don't have enough time to do all the work expected of you. The problem with hiding problems is that nobody will know about them.

10 comments
Tig2
Tig2

There have been times that I have been in a lull and could take the time to go to lunch. And there have been times that if I got lunch, it was eaten at my desk. What that means is that I don't always need 40 hours to do my job. Sometimes I need 30. Sometimes I need 50. But I do agree that balance is a key factor in this. When I have to work a bit harder to meet key deliverables, I do. But when I don't, I don't. I leave on time, fill in "extra" time with tasks that I would not normally be able to do, or I leave early. We are not at everyone's "beck and call". Anyone who treats us as if we are is not worth working for. I can work a bit extra to bring that mission critical piece of equipment back on line. But don't expect that I will do that every day or that I'll not be late in the following morning. Yes, Jeff. It's all about balance.

Joe_R
Joe_R

It's normally a good thing to be seen as going the extra mile for the customer (or user). But it's not a good thing to be over worked. Where does one stop and the other begin? How does one find the best balance?

jdclyde
jdclyde

are because they are so inefficient through out the day that it is the only way they can get their work done, while everyone else gets it done in time to leave at 5. The bad thing is one thing some managers see is a dedicated worker that is putting in extra time for the company, not that they are late because they suckass. I stayed late last night because I am leaving early today to get to ThingOnes swim meet tonight. It all balances out.

sharpj
sharpj

that our careers / jobs should not define us, rather they should allow us to pursue our dreams, provide life's wants and needs or provide income for ourselves and family. I am NOT my job, I am ME, and my job requires 40 or so hours of honest work, or whatever it takes to get the job done until return the next day. Work = income.... that simple for me. edit:typo only

DadsPad
DadsPad

Most of us have variable hours. Fortunately, when things go right, the hours are good, when they all go wrong, you work more. The problem is you should enjoy your professional life. If you don't, might have to change fields. Sure, not all people, or customers, will be pleasant, but the majority will. Your skills with people must to be good enough that your problems do not reflect in job performance. If not, there is training availble that could help. If we work for someone else, then what we support will take prededent, usually, or you will not have a job. If you are self employed, well, other people would love to have your customers. Of course, being self employed, the hours are much longer than 40hrs anyway. The bottom line is you must enjoy your profession. Or, at least, find a way to relieve the stress if changing fields is not wise at the moment.

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

I got here 15 minutes late this morning, so I'll just leave 15 minutes early to make it up :) Seriously, if I occasionally stay late, it's only to finish a task that would cost more time to stop and restart.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I've heard the claim before, "If you need to stay late that often, you're not doing something right". I think it is situational. Some people are absorbed with their work and love being in the office. Some people have a reason they would rather be at the office than at home, some people are trying to compensate for their incompetence - and some employers abuse the work/life balance by implicity making it clear that working extra hours is simply part of the culture. You can't make a blanket assumption about this issue. I think like all things, the real work/life balance is in finding a place where you can at least tolerate the prevelent corporate culture. Some people like a strict, military-like operation with well defined rules, regulations, policies and expectations. Others like a laid back, casual approach to the work environment. Some are impressed by perks like an elaborate, free-to-employees cafeteria. Like all things, knowing yourself is the first step to knowing where you fit.

Tig2
Tig2

I don't live to work. At a time when my job required 90% travel and I was exhausted constantly, a friend inquired if I wanted my headstone to read, "I wish I had put in more overtime" or "I made a difference". I don't work at that job any more. :D

dcolbert
dcolbert

Which is part of the IT culture. Also why we like to bury ourselves in obscure parts of the building and avoid interruptions. When I am on a train-of-thought trying to troubleshoot an issue, it may be a very sequential process, and to stop half way through might as well be to start over from start. I'll also forgo lunch and breaks for the same reason... But in a balanced workplace, my employer should understand that about my position and make concessions. At least, if he/she wants to retain highly skilled IT workers that know they can find this level of respect elsewhere.

jdclyde
jdclyde

As you said, there are many reasons for people to work extra hours. It takes a good manager to see the difference. unfortunately there are more bad managers that have worked their way up "from the ranks" and are still stuck in the hourly mentality instead of thinking by the job.

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