How Hard Should I Work?

Posted: September 23, 2006 in Blogs I'm reading!, Family, Finance For Youth, Friends, Jobs, Life, School, Working

Once you have a job, and you are doing well at it, your boss may come to you to offer you the opportunity to work more hours, (meaning more money$$) or more responsibility.  This is awesome!!  You have found what many people spend their entire adult lives looking for, someone who will acknowledge your contributions to the company!  You should pat yourself on the back, and be very proud.  But should you take the opportunity that is presented?

While this is an individual decision, and not one that I would want to be responsible for making, there are some general guidelines that you should consider before accepting more responsibility or more hours, especially if this is your first job.  One of the most important things to consider is the amount of time that would be required.  For those of you who aren’t very good at math, (don’t get too upset, I’ve worked in finance for well over a decade, and I was the worst at ‘math’.  I was great at adding up my paycheck, though!) there are only 24 hours in a day.  Most schools run from about 8:00 AM till about 3:30 PM, which is 7.5 hours.  Let’s assume it takes about an hour to prepare for school in the morning; waking up, bathing, doing essential face and hair arranging, picking out clothes, changing your mind about the first choice of clothes, eating breakfast, changing clothes because you spilled some breakfast on your shirt, and travel to the school itself.  Just for fun, let’s assume it takes half that for the return trip.  We’re now up to 9 hours, (15 left).  Teachers will tell you that they figure about an hour and a half of homework per hour of instruction given, but most students will say about 20 minutes or so.  Six classes of 20 minutes is two more hours.  At least 8 of those hours, you are asleep in your bed, oblivious to the world, so that leaves us with about 5 hours which are yours.  Multiply that times 5, (I strongly urge you to think four times if you think you are cut out to work a seven day workweek) and you have 20.  That is probably very close to the MAXIMUM number of hours you should work in a given week.  Personally, I think 15-24 hours a week is pretty fair.  Anything more than that, and you are sacrificing something else that is important to your well being.

You should definitely consider how important whatever you are sacrificing really is to you.  If you are thinking to yourself, “I don’t need that much sleep, I can shave off two or three hours right there, and it usually only takes me about 30 minutes to get ready for school.  I have plenty of time.” welcome to my world.  When I was young, I figured I could work two full-time jobs and still have plenty of time to goof around.  I was very, very, very, wrong.  If you are cutting into your sleep time, consider how tired you will be the next day, and how that may affect your ability to go through your normal day.

You want to think past the immediate prize of more money here.  If your school work starts to suffer, your parents may, (and rightly so) force you to cut back on work, meanwhile, because of your falling grades, you are limiting yourself for what types of jobs will be open to you when you are done with school, because employers do look at education.  Your work output may suffer as well, causing your boss to rethink the idea of giving you more responsibility.

You should also think about how much you want to do this job.  Nobody likes the job they have to do, but if you start off accepting more responsibility than you really want, you will like your job even less, even as you are marrying yourself closer to the job because you are accepting more responsibility.

There will be plenty of time in your life for you to have to work long, hard hours.  While you are still young and able to do so, put those years off till later.  Right now, you are just starting on a fantastic journey that will transcend many, many jobs you will have over your adult life, and you should be focusing your energy on making the best decisions that will get you to your goal of financial security.


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