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How To Avoid Getting Overworked

While the 40-hour work week has long been considered the standard in the U.S., many employees often put in more hours than that.

The reason why people put in more than 40 hours a week of work can differ greatly, but if you're not careful the extra hours can do more harm than good.


A Bureau of Labor Statistics chart from 2017 indicates that the average American works 44 hours a week, while a 2014 Gallup poll found that the average American works 47 hours a week.

In addition to full-time jobs, many Americans work multiple jobs or have side-hustles. Some people don't have full-time jobs and opt for nontraditional work arrangements where they work multiple jobs for their income.

No matter what your working arrangement is, the hours can add up quickly and before you know it, you're overworked and not an effective employee. Here are some tips for avoiding this scenario:

Keep Track Of Your Hours

Businesswoman keeps track of the extra hours that she works.

How many hours are too many hours to work?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for this. A 55-hour work week may be a piece of cake for a young, single person with few obligations, while such a work week may be too much for a working parent with two kids.

If you know that you're going to need to work over 40 hours, be sure to set a limit and stick to it. Those extra hours at work are taking away from personal or family time and you need to decide how much of that you're willing to give up, without it having a negative impact on your life.

It's important to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Understand Why You're Working More Than 40 Hours A Week

If you're working more than 40 hours a week, it's important to understand why.

Understanding why you have to put in more than 40 hours of week is essential, because in some cases it may be avoidable.

Some people are more than willing to put in the extra hours. They may have financial goals they're trying to achieve and have taken on a second job or side hustle to help. Some workplaces offer overtime hours to employees and employees willingly take these hours for overtime pay. In these cases, employees are making a conscious choice.

But, there are cases where a simple change in work habits could help cut the amount of hours you work.

A manager or executive working well over 40 hours a week may need to consider if they've delegated enough of their daily responsibilities to their management or support team. They may also want to take a look at their daily routine to make sure they're making the best use of their time.

Those in leadership positions typically expect to work over 40 hours a week, but it shouldn't get to an excessive point where it negatively impacts your personal life and health.

Employees in the same boat should also examine their daily routine and time management, to see if they truly need to work over 40 hours. Sometimes there's a lot of work to do and you need to work more than 40 hours, but sometimes bad habits could be expanding your workday. You may find that not all the tasks you are doing are necessary or could be done differently.

Every workplace situation is different. Maybe there are some cases where employers are assigning or expecting too much from employees. Such a situation needs to be handled delicately with management.

You may also be struggling to get your work done in 40 hours because the job isn't the right fit for you or you're not happy at work. At this point, it may be time to consider a career change.

Practice Good Time Management

Business woman carefully plans her day with a daily planner.

As mentioned above, poor time management could be the reason why you're working more than 40 hours a week. But, even if it isn't, learning good time management is essential! Especially if you want to work more than 40 hours a week and remain sane.

Some people have schedule planners where they copiously plan their day, hour by hour. That's not a bad strategy. It's a good way to hold yourself accountable and keep track of where you need to be and when. Obviously schedules change, but having a general guide is good practice.

Having such a record of your time is also a good way to go back and review how you allocate your time. This can be particularly helpful if you're ever looking to better manage your day or improve your time management skills.

There are only 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week, and only you can determine the proper work-life balance for you.


Being overworked is not only a detriment to yourself, but it also hurts your employer. You're not the best version of yourself when you're overworked and stressed. It's important to always know your limits and not overextend yourself to the point of exhaustion.

If a career change is part of the solution, Work It Daily can help!

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