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Letter from the Editor | Working hard or overworking?

The hard pull of sleep beckons for the sweet release of your head hitting the pillow, the dark circles are beginning to form under your eyes and your hair looks disheveled. But, there is simply too much to do before relaxation can occur. We’ve all been there at least once in our lifetime, burning the midnight oil known as late night coffee.

Now, I am a strong believer in relaxation. I am also a strong believer in doing the best job you can do. In today’s fast-paced society, some have gotten into the mindset of just go, go, go all the time. There’s even a hashtag for it. But how much work is too much? When should the midnight oil end and the relaxation begin?

Small businesses usually tend to have few employees facing a big workload. I can see how it would be tempting for an employer to ask certain salaried workers to put in more hours, rather than an employee who is hourly, due to the fact that many salaried workers are not protected by overtime laws. The federal district court recently granted an injunction against a controversial Department of Labor overtime rule that would have to broaden overtime availability.

In 2014, President Barack Obama directed the Secretary of Labor to update and simplify the overtime regulations to make them easier for employees and businesses to understand and apply. The rule, which would have gone into effect Dec. 1, would give employers the option to either put more money into the pockets of hard workers putting in over 40 hours a week, or give them more free time.

Had it not been blocked, the rule would have raised the salary threshold indicating overtime eligibility from $455 a week to $913 or $47,476 a year. This rule would have automatically updated every three years based on wage growth over time.

While the block may be a success for small businesses, it’s sad that a small business success comes at the expense of some of its workers. If you’re burning the midnight oil frequently, wouldn’t it make sense that you get paid for it?

If you’re on salary making over $23,660 a year, you remain unprotected. I implore owners of small businesses to keep an eye out for how many hours their salaried workers are putting in and try to avoid overworking them. Those who are on salary, watch your hours. If you feel you are going above and beyond what you are getting paid to do, talk to your boss. I personally think anything over 60 hours a week is excessive.

I recently watched a video made by Evan Carmichael with Entrepreneur, called, “7 Signs You’re Overworked and Need a Break.” The seven signs are:

-Your Health is suffering. To prevent some the ill effects of overworking, one can use vacation time, get at least seven hours of sleep, eat the right foods and find time to move while at work. Get up every two hours to take a five-minute walk.

-Your spouse is lonely. I personally have the mindset that you can’t replace loved ones, but jobs will come and go. Having said that, don’t play hooky just because. I’m suggesting finding balance. Carmichael suggested involving your spouse by explaining your job and getting them involved in what you’re doing.

-You can’t spend time with your kids. If you have kids, you can’t replace that time with them, use it wisely. If you have to miss a big event, you better have a good reason, again this is just my opinion.

-You have regrets. If you’re regretting not getting to do more activities you enjoy doing, chances are you are not getting to do them enough. Set aside one to two hours a day and dedicate that time to whatever you want to do, whether it be painting, gardening, watching a movie or just spending more time with loved ones.

-You’re not feeling creative. Jobs that require some thought, such as writing or teaching, thrive on creativity. Make sure you set aside time to be creative. Take a walk, paint a picture or sing in the shower; it’s different for everyone. Treat that time for creativity like it is a part of your job because technically it, is.

-You’re not hitting your goals. If you’re not reaching your goals, something needs to change. I am a supporter of working smart, not hard.

-You wonder if you’re in the wrong business. I think the old saying “If you love your job you never work a day” rings so true. If you wake up every morning dreading your job, you are probably not in the right profession, and you should take a leap of faith and try something that makes you happy. Again this is just my opinion.

As human beings, we only get one life, and there is no set expiration date on that life. It could be 20, 50 or even 100 years. So yes, that time is valuable, because we really don’t know how much we have. Make sure those days, hours even minutes are not wasted. If you must burn the midnight oil, make sure it’s worth it.