WOW. I am absolutely, unbelievably and incredibly exhausted. I just finished working about 169 hours over 13 days straight. Yes, when I say straight I mean working through the weekend. That averages out to 13 hours each day.
Once you’ve pushed yourself to the extreme, it makes doing everything else so much easier. Working forty hours a week now sounds like a walk in the park now. If you’re working 40 hours a week or less, and don’t feel like you’re getting ahead, please stop complaining.
So what the heck have I been doing to rack up so many hours?! Here’s the rough breakdown:
130 hours = Consulting at former employer (data analytics, project management, etc.)
24 hours = Freelance projects (writing, editing, research, etc.)
8 hours = Blogging
5 hours = Self employment accounting, admin
2 hours = Teaching music
169 hours = TOTAL over 13 days
Am I crazy? I might be. Here’s the deal – remember how I went back to work for my former employer as a contractor? It was supposed to be an easy part-time gig for roughly 60-80 hours a month depending on whatever projects were available. Well, having worked there for 10 years prior, I should have known better. Tsk-tsk, Sydney, tsk-tsk.
One of the main reasons I negotiated a layoff from that job last year was because my job was too damn stressful. I’d had enough of the intensity, pressure, lack of respect and impertinent comments from my clients, constant turnover of staff and measly bonuses. But after my former boss, whom I liked, came to me last fall asking me if I could help out – after I had already said no several months prior – I negotiated a nice hourly wage and agreed to return temporarily as a contractor.
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
As the weeks and months went by, I gradually found myself getting sucked into more and more responsibilities. My original plan to work two days a week quickly became three, then creeped up to four to five, and then most recently became a ridiculous seven! I haven’t worked this many hours straight since… never.
My latest assignment ballooned in the last couple weeks. I’ve been up against a May 1st deadline and have been doing the work of two people because they’re understaffed. When I first started this project about a month and a half ago, I didn’t really mind the looming tasks laid before me. It was a nice change of pace from the other assignments I’d been working on. I welcomed the challenge and the money that would come with it.
More hours = more $$$ = more incentive to push myself
A big perk working for my old employer is being able to invoice hourly. It’s been a great motivator. ** As a contractor, it’s an absolutely fantastic feeling knowing full stop that the more I work, the more I’ll get paid. ** It’s actually very addicting.
As someone who likes earning money and has workaholic tendencies, it’s been freakin’ awesome handing in five-figure invoices. Even though my boss tells me the head of the office is always complaining about how much he has to pay me, I don’t give a damn lol. Who the hell else is going to come in on the weekend to do the work? Heck, I should be paid time and a half.
Hey, if I put in the work, pay me and like it! Hearing that the head is complaining actually makes me very glad I left as a full-time employee and very happy to be charging for my time. He’s not going to find anyone else with my skillset to do the work they need this easily and I’m good at what I do, if I do say so myself.
It also makes me feel quite pleased that I negotiated a good rate. After all, if the head of the office constantly gloated about how he got me for a steal, that would mean I sold myself too short when I signed my contract. Instead, his complaining makes me feel like I’m still winning.
Hourly contractor > salaried employee
When I was working full-time I became less and less incentivized to work harder as more time went by. Whenever I had to come in on a weekend, I was not a happy camper. My salary started to plateau and I no longer had any trust that the company would pay me more if I worked harder. Our bonuses were total crap, almost insultingly low.
As a result, the more senior I became, the more resentful I began to feel working harder than the next guy. Towards the end of time there as a full-time employee, I actually wanted to do the least amount possible because I’d still make the same amount of money. This is why employers really have to pay attention to employee morale and build trust. Everything will turn to crap if they don’t.
I’m not ashamed to say that I am motivated by money – if there’s an opportunity within grasp for me to make more money by working harder, I will. Now that I have control over how much I make, I’m willing to work a lot harder for than before. That’s why I worked 13 days straight without a day off. I was also up against a deadline, but there were delays totally out of my control and I still went above and beyond what any normal employee would do.
There’s no way in hell I would have worked 13 days straight as a salaried full-time employee ineligible for any overtime or weekend pay. Being self-employed motivates me to work so much harder.
Everyone has a breaking point, including me.
I’m surprised though that I lasted as long as I did working so many hours in such a relatively short span of two weeks. I was starting to get grouchy on Friday because I had a stomach ache and was feeling a bit tired, but I still put in a full day. Saturday, however, was really the last straw. My stamina finally fizzled out.
About three hours into my second Saturday in a row at the office, I started to get a migraine. I knew I couldn’t quit yet though, so I popped some Advil and scarfed down a couple McDonald’s cheeseburgers to try and get my blood sugar up. I kept grinding things out and eventually finished what I need to do by 5pm.
I left the office feeling proud but also really exhausted. I went to pick up some books at the library on my way home and that’s when everything hit me really hard. I have a 2-week vacation coming up this month – which I think I so deserve! – and wanted to pick out a suspense novel as a treat to take on my trip. I haven’t read a book for pleasure in years because I’m usually so busy.
Anyway, I’m walking the aisles trying to find a book when waves of vertigo started to hit me. I felt like I was going cross eyed trying to read the titles on the spines of the books. I gave up on picking a book after about a minute because my eyes were too damn tired to function anymore and my head hurt. Looking at the books was literally making me keel over!
Rest, recuperate and start fresh!
I grabbed dinner and then immediately went home and took a 1.5 hour nap. I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. After my glorious evening nap I treated myself to some TV for a couple hours without touching my laptop or my phone. Normally I’m always on a device while I watch TV, multitasking on something. So it felt great to veg out for a little while and then get a good night’s sleep afterwards.
Today, Sunday, the day I’m writing this, was my first day to do whatever the hell I wanted. It was glorious! I woke up and went on a 2-hour hike in the morning, had lunch with my bestie and took a 40 minute nap afterwards. Normally, I don’t nap when I’m at home, but with the amount of hours I’ve been working, I’ve literally needed to nap in order to function.
After my nap, I started writing this post, went to look at an open house in my neighborhood and then made dinner. It was really nice doing normal non-work activities for a change. I’m going back into the office tomorrow, but I’m going to go in late so I can get a little more sleep and take it easy in the morning. I think once I iron out a few more things on Monday, I’ll be able to bow out of this project for the most part. I’m looking forward to being completely done! If everything goes well, I may treat myself to a half day on Tuesday.
Fruits of hard labor
One of the reasons I’ve been so willing to work so hard these last few weeks, besides the money, is that I’m taking two weeks off later this month to see new places in Europe. What’s great is I won’t feel guilty kicking my feet up! I’ve really been on a work hard play hard mentality lately.
I also don’t anticipate having to maintain this level of intensity – thank goodness! Working 40 hours a week is ridiculously easy. And working 60-70 hours a week versus 85 sounds like a total walk in the park now! 🙂
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Untemplaters, what’s the most amount of hours you’ve ever worked in a week before? Have you ever worked more than 7 days straight? Do you think working 40 hours a week is ridiculously easy?