I can't speak for you, but I really love what I do. I feel lucky that I enjoy my job. And for that reason, sometimes I wind up putting in extra hours because, well, sometimes things just must get done. In the work that I do, I have to be very time conscious, in my job we live by the clock and that does sometimes add a little stress. 

Data centre worker with tablet computer
Wavebreakmedia Ltd

In America, for the most part, we work hard. But do we work too hard? (or is it too much?) I stumbled across an article that explained the average worker in Washington put in 244 extra unpaid hours in 2023. (do the math, that's a lot of money) A study that was done by Rebel’s Guide to Project Management shows that Washington workers have worked 313% more unpaid overtime in 2023 than 2022. 

Let's look at the Top five states that workers are working the most unpaid overtime. According to this study. 

Pretty woman cleaning medical tools

“The top 5 states which are working more unpaid overtime in 2023: 

  1. New Hampshire (9.9 more hours)
  2. Iowa (7.6 more hours)
  3. Alaska (7.4 more hours)
  4. Utah (6.3 more hours)
  5. North Carolina (6.1 more hours)”

My father was an aerospace engineer. He worked for Boeing. We lived near Burien, but his job was in Everett. So, he would drive an hour to work, work 8 hours, then an hour back, and then, he would spend at least one to two hours downstairs in the basement at his drawing board working unpaid hours for Boeing. This was in the 50s through the 70s.
So, is there a solution to this problem? Or is it even a problem at all? 

Elizabeth Harrin of Rebel’s Guide to Project Management offers up some ideas on what you can do to manage your time and your efficiency. 

Appliance technician working on a front load washing machine in a laundry room

“1. Track Time: Log your work hours to identify patterns of unpaid labor. Use this data to discuss workload with your employer, and negotiate fair compensation for overtime hours, especially when taking on roles that extend beyond the typical workday. 

  1. Set Boundaries: Clearly define work hours and stick to them. Use your out of office message to let people know when you will next be available, and don’t download work apps to your personal phone.
  2. Prioritize Ruthlessly: Focus on tasks that align with key project goals. If it's not critical, delegate or defer it.
  3. Leverage Technology: Automate repetitive tasks and learn how to use all the features of project management tools to streamline workflows.
  4. Communicate Efficiently: Opt for asynchronous communication when possible to avoid unnecessary meetings. Use AI assistants to summarize meeting takeaways and create minutes.
  5. Educate Yourself: Understand the labor laws and regulations regarding overtime. Know your rights and when to seek guidance.
  6. Lead by Example: Don’t expect colleagues to work uncompensated overtime.  Manage your own hours and advocate for employees and peers for fair compensation.”
Cable installers installing cable for cable TV

The popular phrase, “work smarter, not harder” is more important than ever. 

The Top 5 Most Surprising Stressful Jobs in Washington State

Uncover the numbers behind who works the 5 most stressful jobs in Washington State. 

Gallery Credit: Rik Mikals


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