By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes
Work smarter, not harder. It’s an adage we’ve all heard, but is there some actual truth to it? As a career coach and someone who has personally experienced extreme burnout, I know first-hand that overworking yourself is a sure-fire way to bring your career path to a screeching halt.
To those that aren’t on the entrepreneurial path, however, being told to stay late or give extra time can seem like a “do or die” type of external pressure. A study from Amerisleep found that 82% of workers are directed to stay late, and 61% believe their job is at risk if they don’t complete that request.
If you’ve received multiple requests to stay late from your higher-ups, here are some tips that might help your situation.
- Remind them you’ve been staying late. If you’re working for a larger company, it may simply slip your boss’s mind that they’ve asked you to stay late multiple times a week. The same study from Amerisleep found that workers average 2.5 after-hours requests each week. Notify your boss of your workload and priorities, and let him or her know the number of hours in the week it would take to honor them. Then show your boss the additional priorities and explain that those would require you to work late X amount of nights a week. By asking for help and determining where you should move your workload together, you’re showing that you’re enthusiastic and willing to shift your priorities if needed.
- Be honest about your career path. For some jobs and career paths, staying late is part of the gig. According to the Amerisleep study, 60% of workers believe that it’s worth it to invest the extra time. Come up with goals you can have for the company – ones that align with where you’re headed. Present them to your boss and see where they will shift your workload so you can use your job to contribute to your career.
- Ask if you can come in early. Another solution you can offer is to come in early the next morning instead of staying late. If you’re a morning person, this could even increase your productivity at the office. A 2012 paper from the University of Toronto found that morning people had higher positive effects across the board in terms of overall mood when compared to night owls. Your boss may appreciate you bringing up an alternative option that still allows you to get extra work done, without having to stay late and sacrifice your night. This will also showcase your abilities to negotiate and problem solve, which can go a long way in the end.
Being asked to stay late can happen when deadlines approach, new clients or signed on or your job title or responsibilities change. However, if you’re feeling pressured or made to feel like your job is at risk because you’re not able to put in extra effort, then maybe it’s time to find a new career path or at least a new company to work with. Hopefully, these conversation starters can help you discuss your current issues and future roles in your company, and your boss will respect your time and work ethic moving forward.
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