My Friends Put in Extra Hours at Work to Avoid Burnout

But wait, don’t longer hours lead to burnout?!

Kevin Lee
4 min readDec 6, 2021


Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels

People often conflate burnout with working long hours.

But long hours are only part of the problem.

After discussing with friends and reviewing past experiences, it seems the bigger issue is intensity.

Not all jobs are created equal. The urgency, scale, and importance of tasks vary across the spectrum of available job opportunities. Certain industries, companies, societies, and cultures also demand more of their workers.

So, unfortunately, the goldilocks method of trying different jobs until you find one that’s just right doesn’t work very well when the ratio of awful jobs to just right is exponentially greater than 2 to 1.

When Work Conflicts With Your Natural Rhythm

Have you ever gone for a run with a friend that was significantly taller than you?

Even if you are in similar shape, your taller friend will cover more ground than you when taking the exact same number of steps. So in an effort to keep up, you speed up. But the unnaturally quicker pace exhausts you quicker than if you went at your own pace. You end up covering less ground and burning out.

Sadly, that’s exactly how work is for countless employees.

Fortunately and unfortunately, with the cookie-cutter employment structure, there is usually some flexibility. A soft End of Day deadline usually means before the start of the next. So it doesn’t matter to the business whether you finish by 5 pm, 9 pm or even 2 am.

It only matters to you.

So when employees see an avalanche of work coming their way, they often put in extra hours to get on top of it. The extra effort is what prevents difficult to manage tasks from becoming impossible.

Nobody wants to do extra work for free, but if they didn’t they just couldn’t cope.

Workers Delay Output to Avoid Mistakes

I mean, you could call this doing your job properly.



Kevin Lee

Fascinated by people and how they choose to live their lives. Writing to provide another perspective.