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Seven ways to kill your career with overtime

Are you doing overtime in the hope that it is your path to a better job?

If you are being paid to do it, you are turning yourself into a very expensive resource; if you are not being paid, you really do need help. Read on to find out what people actually think about your efforts.

1. It is suspicious

When financial frauds are being investigated, the fraudster’s colleagues remark time after time on how keen the person was, how they were always in the office, how they arrived early and left late, how they never took their holidays, and how they were often in alone at the weekends.

Think Nick Leeson, for instance. In anyone who has a financial role, this kind of behaviour is quite likely to provoke discreet investigations to make sure that you are not covering up some financial wrongdoing by processing the suspect transactions personally.

2. Your manager will think you can’t cope

If everybody else can do their job and go home at five, why can’t you? You may well be giving your manager the impression that you do not know how to manage your workload. There is a fine line to tread here: half an hour of overtime looks keen, while two hours looks desperate.

3. You do not have a home life

Let’s face it, anybody staying in the office until 9pm has not got much going on at home. If you want not only your boss but also your colleagues to think of you as Billy No Mates, staying late in the evening will probably achieve this. What follows is that your boss thinks you are a bit of a loner and not really the kind of person who can be promoted to manage a department; in other words, your extra efforts, far from ensuring you promotion, are actually career death.

4. Nobody may even notice

Unless you are doing something so impressive that everyone notices, it is quite likely that nobody will. You can use the usual ploys, such as sending a group email five minutes before you leave, but even this is not guaranteed to work. If your boss has not noticed you working yourself into an early grave, he or she probably doesn’t read your emails anyway.

5. The more work you do, the more you get

If your boss is piling work on you, and your only response is to meekly stay in the office doing it, why should they stop? At some point, you must get to grips with the fact that you can’t do everything in a day and that some things just need to be dumped or delegated. Do this now.

6. Longer hours will take their toll

You don’t only need sleep but also downtime to give your mind a chance to rest and operate in a different mode. If you are not getting this due to constantly being at work, you will gradually become less creative, less analytical, and more and more robotic.

7. Do not expect to be popular

Your colleagues will not appreciate you setting an example of 24/7 commitment to the job. They have lives and want to live them; quite frankly, people like you are letting the side down.

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