The Cost of Overtime

It occurred to me at some point last week that if an employer had asked me to work several weekends in a row, I would have insisted on some sort of compensation or acknowledgment.

Time and a half. Comp time. Kudos when annual reviews/raises/promotions came around. Something.

And whatever we were working on, it better have been something truly important and urgent.

So as my own boss, I’m wondering…

Was it important and urgent? Yes.

Will I be financially compensated for my extra effort? Short term/directly, no. Long term/indirectly, yes. I believe it will prove to be a good investment.

How can my inner boss acknowledge the extra efforts of my inner worker bee?

Comp time is appealing right now, but neither my inner boss nor my inner worker bee is comfortable just… leaving things be while we take a breather for a day or two. There would be consequences we are not so excited about. Or, to avoid those consequences, we’d have to do more organizing and managing than we’re up for.

But we can agree on a paring down to basics. No extras, just the essentials for the next week or two.

And a commitment to not running another marathon again any time soon.

At least not without asking these important questions beforehand.

In the frenzy of the moment, I don’t usually ask myself if the extra effort will be worth it – if what I’m pushing through is truly important and urgent, if what I will earn from it will be proportionate to the energy expended (not to mention if there will be space to replenish afterwards).

And I should.

As big a fan as I am of pacing myself and honoring my capacity, I know there will still be occasions when more than the usual effort will be required. But it’s still my responsibility to be choosy about when and how that takes place.

And it’s not just an energy question. It’s a money question. “Overtime” costs my business something one way or another. And even though it’s just me, myself and I here, I still need to make sure I’m spending it wisely.

• • • • •

How do you approach those “extra hours” you put into your business? Unavoidable? A worthwhile long-term investment? A jackpot of immediate returns? How do you view the cost of overtime?

• • • • •

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2 Responses to “The Cost of Overtime”


  1. 1 Marissa September 29, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    I rarely think of the overtime I put into my biz as anything more than just “the usual.” I tend to forget to acknowledge the overtime at all, let alone what it’s costing. This was a nice nudge for me to look at the overtime I put in, and to think of ways of acknowledging it. I especially like the idea of pausing to consider the overtime before it happens, and determine whether there’s something important and urgent that warrants the expenditure. I’m going to try to do that more often.

    • 2 Cairene September 30, 2009 at 8:08 am

      @Marissa –
      Right on. Let me know if you come up with some great way to remember to pause beforehand! Because overtime feels so normal, I find it makes that step easy to forget…


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