last updated 11/04/2022

How Much Overtime Is Too Much: Is Too Much Overtime?

Are you working too much?

Yes, times are tough, and you definitely need the extra cash. But working all of that extra overtime will mean nothing if you work yourself straight into the hospital… or worse. Overworked straight into an early grave.

So are you working hard or working too hard? Are you stretching yourself thin or tearing yourself apart? Are you taking enough overtime or are you too much overtime?

Read on till the end of this article to find out!

What Are Working Hours? 

Working hours refer to the specific period of time during which an employee is required to perform their job duties. It is an essential aspect of employment as it helps to define the expectations and responsibilities of both the employer and the employee.

The concept of working hours has evolved, with many countries enacting laws and regulations to protect workers’ rights and promote a healthy work-life balance. 

In most countries, working hours are regulated by law, which limits the number of hours employees can work per day, week, or month. These laws also stipulate the minimum amount of rest periods and break that workers are entitled to during their working day.

The standard working hours vary depending on the industry, job type, and country in which the employee works. For example, in the United States, the standard working hours are 40 hours per week, while in France, the standard is 35 hours per week. However, some industries, such as healthcare, retail, and hospitality, require employees to work extended hours, including weekends and holidays.

The Issue With Work Overtime

The issue of working hours has become a topic of interest and concern for many workers and employers alike. The increasing demands of the workplace and technological advancements have blurred the line between work and personal life. This has resulted in many employees working longer hours and needing help maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Studies have shown that working long hours can negatively impact employee productivity, health, and well-being. Long work hours have been linked to increased stress levels, burnout, and a higher risk of developing chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and depression.

To address these concerns, some employers have implemented flexible working arrangements, such as telecommuting, flexible schedules, and job sharing. These arrangements allow employees to have more control over their working hours, promoting a better work-life balance and reducing the negative impacts of long working hours.

What Are Overtime Hours? 

Overtime hours refer to when an employee works beyond their normal working hours. These hours are usually paid at a higher rate than regular hours and are often used to compensate employees for their extra effort and dedication to their job.

The number of overtime hours an employee is allowed to work varies depending on the country, industry, and employment contract terms. In many countries, the law stipulates a maximum number of overtime hours an employee can work in a day or week to protect their health and well-being.

While overtime hours can provide employees with additional income, they can also negatively impact their health and well-being. Studies have shown that working long hours, including overtime, can increase stress levels, reduce job satisfaction, and lead to burnout.

Employers should monitor the number of overtime hours employees work to ensure that they do not exceed the limits set by law and that they do not negatively impact employees’ health and well-being.

They should also consider implementing healthy work-life balance measures, such as flexible working arrangements, job sharing, and regular breaks.

What is a good amount of overtime?

Deciding what a good amount of overtime is for you will depend heavily on what type of job you have as well as your circumstances. For example, do you work as a mover who has to do constant heavy labor, or do you work an office job where you usually sit behind a desk? Are you a young, single person with no family or a father with three kids at home?

You need to look at yourself and your life before deciding how much overtime you can take.

That being said, here are a few good rules of thumb to follow when deciding how much overtime you should take:

  1. There are 24 hours in a day. Consider that you need 8 hours of sleep per day, and you should be working for 8 hours a day by default. That leaves you with another 8 hours of not working or sleeping.

Remember that you need to account for travel time going to and from work. Always remind yourself that if you have a family, you should spend time with them daily. It goes without saying, but remember to eat two to three complete meals daily. You should also be getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.

Take the 24 hours you have in a day and subtract all of the above. Let’s say after subtracting all of the activities above that you have about 2 hours left in your day. That means you can healthily be working overtime for 2 hours per day.

See how much your circumstances affect how much overtime you can work. Anyone who gives you a set-in-stone answer of how much overtime you can work doesn’t know what they’re talking about. You need to figure it out for yourself.

2. Try to only work overtime on two or three days of the week so that you can get enough rest on the other days of the week. Spend some time relaxing with your friends or family to help your brain recharge after your long work week. Even if you have 2 to 3 hours to spare a day for overtime work every day, it doesn’t mean that you should work overtime for 2 to 3 hours every day.   

Life isn’t perfect and there will be times when you’ll have to work overtime 5 days a week and work on weekends. You really need to watch out for your health during times like this because the stress will make you get sick easily. Prolonged periods of overwork like this can even lead to strokes and heart attacks which is definitely something that you want to avoid.

Is working a lot of overtime worth it?

Generally, yes. Working a lot of overtime can be very good for you and your career.

The most obvious benefit of working overtime is earning extra cash on top of your salary. Most employers pay their employees up to double their hourly rate for overtime work. Working overtime can help you build up your emergency savings or get yourself out of any problem that can be solved with some extra cash. When times aren’t hard, and you aren’t struggling to survive you can also use overtime work to save up for things you want like nice vacations or a nicer car.

Working a lot of overtime can also help you advance your career by showing your employer that you’re a motivated and indispensable employee. Employers tend to like employees who work extra overtime hours since it means they need to hire fewer employees to handle the company’s workload.

Sometimes overtime is necessary during peak seasons and employers will treat the employees that can work overtime regularly much better. You’ll get treated better, and you might be further up the line for a pay increment or a promotion.

Can you take on too much overtime work?

Yes, you definitely can. Overworking yourself is becoming a worldwide problem.

Overworking yourself will lead to losing focus and decreased productivity over the long run. This can be a deadly problem if you work certain jobs. For example, if you work as a truck driver and overwork yourself to exhaustion, you can easily get into an accident. Even if you work a desk job, taking on too much overtime can badly affect your health by putting too much stress on your mind and body.

Taking too much overtime can also easily lead to you having a terrible work-life balance. Families falling apart because the parents are absent and overworked is a modern and unfortunately commonplace problem these days.

Surprisingly enough, you taking too much overtime can also be detrimental to your employer. Employees taking too much overtime but having declining productivity can lead to diminishing returns for the company. Companies can also go over-budget if too many employees simultaneously take overtime.

Why does this matter to you as an employee? Your employer might cut their overtime rates and use sneaky methods to avoid paying your overtime pay if things get bad enough. That’s definitely a bad situation for you to be in.

How do you take care of yourself if you’re working a lot of overtime?

When working excessive overtime, prioritize your health. The first thing you need to be doing in this situation is to make sure that you find a way to stop needing to work overtime as fast as possible.

During overtime crunch, eat two healthy meals daily. Fast food or energy bars and coffee for all your meals every day is bad for your health.

As much as you can, ensure you get 8 hours of sleep daily. At a minimum, ensure you get at least 6 hours a day. Pulling all-nighters every single day is bad for your brain, body, and most importantly, heart.

Lastly, if you can, make sure you get some movement and exercise every day. Even if you can’t spend an hour or two in the gym daily, walking 10,000 steps a day can help keep your health in check. Doing bodyweight exercises and stretches before going to bed can also help improve the quality of your sleep.


To reiterate, we know you probably need the extra cash since times are rough. This isn’t some Disney movie spiel about how you don’t need to work and need to take it easy. We’re saying to work as much overtime as possible without wrecking your body and ruining your health. 

Work as hard as you can but don’t burn out. Remember to take care of yourself and that your health is extremely important to you as well as your loved one!

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