The perils of overtime…

Was that dramatic enough for you?  Reality is, we often only see that positive aspects of working overtime.  And let’s face it, primarily it’s about the money.  While I don’t want to deny you that extra little something in your paycheck, I do want you to pay attention to the REAL cost working overtime has on your life and your self care.

I encourage you to ask yourself these questions:

1. Have I come to rely on working overtime so much that if I don’t pick up extra time, I can’t make ends meet?

I learned this lesson at my first nursing job.  I watched as nurse after nurse came to rely on working overtime to keep up with their lifestyle.  They came to expect that they would always have that overtime money.  They no longer looked at it as “extra” and so the unhealthy cycle of working beyond their full time hours became a crippling necessity.

2. Am I overtired?  Do I feel run down?

Working too much overtime can lead to exhaustion.  Exhaustion can lead to mistakes, burnout, irritability, overeating, sickness….and the list goes on.  Check in with yourself.  How do you really feel?  Will you actually be an asset to others or will you barely carry your own weight.  Many people think that not working an extra shift means you’re not a team player.  I beg to differ.  Personally I’d rather be short-staffed than work with someone whose exhaustion is effecting their work and mine!

3. Is the money worth the time that could be spent relaxing and decompressing?

The answer to this question can be yes. But don’t assume that is the answer every time.  Sometimes it’s not worth it.  Sometimes you need to go to that show with friends and connect, or have a quiet night at home.  Try to get in the habit of checking in with yourself before you automatically respond.  There’s nothing more frustrating than not listening to yourself and being stuck in a situation you didn’t really want.

I will not deny that for many people, overtime is the only way they will make a livable wage.  This is heartbreaking, because more often than not, people are pushed to their limits and beyond. However, if this is not the case for you, take a closer look at your life.  Have you come to rely on overtime at the detriment of your health/personal life/happiness?  How many times have you picked up overtime, only to learn you missed out on something you would’ve enjoyed? And finally, is it really giving you that much more financial freedom?  Honestly? Or could you budget so that you can still have a life outside of work and make ends meet.

Take care of YOU.


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