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How much is working through your lunch costing you?

What do all those extra hours working through lunch translate to: Job security? A pay raise? An extra day off every now and then?

money professional personal success

First in, last to leave

Most of us have worked through lunch. A lot more of us not only skip lunch but also manage to come in early and leave the office late. I did just that very thing for so many years that it became the new normal for me. The only thing that made it palatable for me was that most of my co-workers were doing the same thing (don’t ask, it’s a military thing).


At any rate, I often wondered what do all those extra hours translated to: Job security? A pay raise? An extra day off every now and then? The tangible answer is none-of-the-above but my skill-set increased and I’m not sure you can really put a dollar amount on that. Or maybe you can, which is why the TwoCents app is so intriguing and so important: you can see what all that extra time is costing you. I just ran some numbers (you can do it here as well) and apparently, I saved the government from having to hire another employee.

Too much of a good thing

This is good information to have. Granted this is geared for English pounds instead of US dollars but you can take the total and easily convert it. Now whether you’re able to leverage those extra hours into a raise or a promotion or just have some extra numbers to place on your resume somewhere is for fate to decide In the meantime there is some scientific data to support the theory that unless you honestly enjoy coming in early and leaving late you may be doing yourself more harm than good.

It’s recently been documented that after working more than 8-9 hours a day your productivity drops.

So those 12 hour days may look impressive but you’re probably not accomplishing a heck of lot more than the person who is working a normal day.

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Denmark rocks

Here’s an even better analogy: Denmark is regularly singled out as one of the world’s happiest countries. And why not? Their work culture is as far apart from that of the United States (and many others) as you can get. A great article in Sane underscores the Danish work ethic:

  • Most Danes arrive at work around 8 am and leave the office by 4 pm (often 3 pm on Friday). Thus the average Dane works 35-37 hours a week.
  • Staying late or working overtime is frowned upon
  • Danes get five to six weeks annual leave a year and up to a year of paid maternity or paternity leave
  • Denmark focuses on the life-long education of its workers.
  • The Danes also believe that all work is valuable, so the roles of brain surgeon and baker are viewed as equally important.

That settles it for me: I’m grabbing the next flight for Denmark! That said, I’m pretty sure there aren’t many Danes who give a flip about the TwoCents app. For the rest of us, it may be worth plugging in the numbers to see how much we really work and who is benefitting from our efforts.


Written By

Nearly three decades living and working all over the world as a radio and television broadcast journalist in the United States Air Force, Staff Writer, Gary Picariello is now retired from the military and is focused on his writing career.

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