last updated 11/04/2022

How Much Overtime Is too Much

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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 end up working 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 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 own personal circumstances. For example, do you work as a mover who has to do constant heavy labour or do you work an office job where you sit behind a desk most of the time? Are you a young, single person with no family or a father with three kids at home?

You need to take a good 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. Take into account 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 time where you’re 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 be spending time with them everyday. It goes without saying, but remember that you should be eating two to three complete meals a day. 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 personal 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 or spending time 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 everyday, it doesn’t mean that you should work overtime for 2 to 3 hours everyday.   

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 actually be very good for you as well as your career.

The most obvious benefit of working overtime is that you’re earning extra cash on top of your normal 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 actually becoming a worldwide problem.

Overworking yourself will lead to you 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 then you can easily get yourself 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 in the family 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 take too much overtime at the same time.

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?

During times where you’re forced to work too much overtime no matter what, you need to make sure that you’re taking care of 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 those crunch time periods where you’re working a lot of overtime, you should take care of yourself by making sure that you’re eating at least two complete and healthy meals a day. Fast food or energy bars and coffee for all your meals every day is bad for your health.

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

Lastly, if you can, make sure you get some movement and exercise into your life every day. Even if you can’t spend an hour or two in the gym every day, making sure that you walk 10,000 steps a day can help to 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 just need to take it easy. What we’re saying is work as much overtime as you can 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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