You're on to something, David. The times I've stayed late at work, sacrificing family time to do so, have not always been my most productive hours. And they definitely didn't make me a happy employee.
A reader named George said in an email that this problem led him to find a way to quit his job.
"There is nothing more ridiculous, in my mind, than a mentality that a warm body at a desk is adding more value to a company," George wrote. "I'm a results-oriented person. If there is work to do, I'm happy to stay late to do it. But I refuse to sit there, pretending to work, just to appear 'dedicated.' The guy who sat next to me for three years refused to leave before me. I can only assume he figured the boss would notice and reward him accordingly."
George fought back by starting a side business and working on it during evenings after getting home from his full-time job.
"I did this for an entire year," George wrote. "It wasn't particularly fun, and family time was scarce. After a year I was able to quit my job and support my family from my own business.
"Now I set my own hours. When there is work to do, I get out there and do it. When there is downtime, I spend it with my family rather than twiddling my thumbs at a desk. It's a pretty good life, and I never have to look at my watch and think, 'It's 5:03, is it OK for me to leave now?' "
Congratulations, George! I'm sure the short-term sacrifice was difficult, but it sounds like the long-term benefits have been great.
I'd appreciate more input on this issue, so if you have an opinion, please let me know. I may share your thoughts in a future column.
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