How to Turn Down Extra Hours at Work

How to Turn Down Extra Hours at Work
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The average American worker spends over 40 hours per week at their job. That means they only have around 20 hours to enjoy themselves outside work. This leaves them little time to relax, socialize, exercise, or even sleep.

However, some people believe that working extra hours is sometimes good. They say that having more responsibility can boost productivity and morale. Others claim that extra hours can be detrimental to your health and well-being.

But what do experts think about this issue? And how does it affect the modern workforce?

This article will answer these questions and provide tips for turning down extra hours at work.

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1. Know what your priorities are and talk about them.

Before you start working overtime, make sure you know why you are doing so. Are you trying to prove something to yourself or your boss? Or is it because you want to better yourself in your career?

If you need more clarity on your reasons, you might feel guilty when you turn down extra hours. If you need to justify your decision, you should probably rethink whether or not you want to take on the extra hours.

If your priority is to improve your skills, then consider getting training through online courses, books, or seminars. You could also join an organization that offers professional development opportunities. These organizations usually provide free membership to those interested in learning new things.

2. Be straightforward

It may seem obvious to tell your boss that you won’t be able to work extra hours, but many people fail to follow through. Instead, they wait until the last minute to inform their bosses that they must skip out early.

This approach is going to fail to work. Your boss needs to understand that you aren’t available right now, especially if you have yet to tell them ahead of time.

If you decide to be upfront, then make sure you explain your reasoning. For example, “I’m sorry I cannot come into work today. My wife has been sick all week, and she needs me home with her.”

This kind of honesty is important because it shows you care about your relationship with your boss. If they don’t respect you, you shouldn’t expect favors from them.

Make sure you also mention that you would be happy to work additional hours once your wife recovers. This way, you show that you are flexible and willing to adjust your schedule whenever necessary.

3. Assess the request

Once you have decided that you won’t be taking on more hours, ask your supervisor if there is anything else you can do to help.

Maybe your supervisor wants you to pick up some extra work that isn’t assigned to anyone else. In this case, you could volunteer to help out. However, if your supervisor asks you to stay late to finish a project, you should decline their request.

Asking for what you want will go a long way toward building trust between you and your boss. If you accept every request that comes your way, then you run the risk of burning bridges.

Your boss might also ask you to complete tasks outside your normal duties. Again, you should politely refuse these requests. Saying yes to everything could lead you to burn out quickly.

Remember to thank your boss when you turn down extra hours. A simple “Thanks for understanding my situation” goes a long way.

Doing so helps you avoid making enemies in your workplace. Bosses tend to dislike employees who constantly complain about their schedules.

4. Briefly explain yourself

Even though you didn’t take extra hours, you need to explain why you turned down the offer briefly.

For example, “My wife was recently diagnosed with cancer, and we are doing everything possible to treat her illness. Unfortunately, I am unable to work overtime at the moment.”

Not only does this demonstrate that you care about your family, but it also shows that you are ready to put them first.

You can even add that you would love to return to work as soon as possible. This way, you let your boss know you are committed to helping your company succeed.

In addition, if you feel like you were unfairly singled out for extra hours, you can mention this.

For instance, “I think I was singled out because other employees don’t have families or children.”

5. Visualize your workload

When working for a large corporation, you probably spend most of your day staring at a computer screen. The problem is that you may only sometimes realize how much work you are completing.

Try keeping a logbook and writing down everything you do to understand better how many hours you spend at work each week. After a few weeks, you should see an increase in the hours listed under “Work.” This exercise will allow you to visualize exactly how much time you spend at work.

If you spend too much time at work, you should consider cutting back on certain activities. For example, you could delegate some of your administrative tasks to someone else.

Alternatively, you could reduce your time watching TV or playing video games.

Finally, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of positive thinking. You can use affirmations to boost your self-esteem and motivate you to change.

6. Bring up an alternative.

Sometimes, there is no choice but to say no. In these situations, you should bring up an alternative solution.

For example, suggest that you work from home one day per week. This way, you will get all the important deadlines.

Or you could set aside specific days for personal projects. Then, you can focus 100% of your attention on those projects.

Regardless of what you decide to do, make sure that you communicate clearly with your boss. Otherwise, they might be upset by your actions.

7. Develop rapport with your manager and coworkers.

It’s easy to become frustrated when you turn down extra hours at work, but sometimes you have to suck it up. However, before making this decision, you should build trust with your boss and coworkers.

This means that you should avoid getting into arguments with anyone. If necessary, you should apologize for missing a deadline or asking for more hours.

As long as you keep things civil, people will appreciate your honesty. They will understand why you must take time off and respect your decision.

8. Keep your stance.

When you tell your boss that you want fewer hours at work, you should remain calm and polite. Don’t let them push you around.

You should also maintain eye contact throughout the conversation. Doing so will show that you are confident and assertive. Lastly, you should state your case clearly and concisely. Try to leave everything unsaid. Once you have said everything that needs expressing, thank your boss for their understanding.

Then, end the conversation politely and walk away.

Remember, don’t get emotional. Instead, try to stay focused on the facts. Also, don’t worry about offending your boss. They don’t care about how you feel.

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9. Practice before the conversation.

Before going into your meeting with your boss, practice your pitch. You should prepare a list of questions to help clarify your concerns. Also, think about what you will say when you ask for fewer hours at work.

Finally, write down some notes you can use during the meeting. For example, you can remind your boss that you have been working hard lately. That way, you will remember all the important points during the discussion.

The best thing is to be honest, and upfront with your employer. Tell them exactly what you are thinking and feeling. This allows them to correct whatever misunderstandings they may have had.

If you are planning on quitting your job, make sure that you give your two-weeks notice first. Your boss will appreciate that you took the initiative to inform them of your plans.


It can be difficult to say no to working overtime at times. However, you should continue if you need to reduce your workload significantly.

Instead, you should discuss the matter with your supervisor. I hope they will see your point of view and provide you with a different choice.

If all else fails, though, stand firm in your convictions. Keep in mind that there are always other choices open to you. You always have the option to move up the corporate ladder or make a complete career change.

On the other hand, you’ll need to be well informed to make these choices. Spend some time getting ready for the meeting. Then, enter the situation fully intending to do good.

Don’t feel bad about saying “no” the next time your boss asks if you can stay late or come in on the weekend. It’s crucial to strike a balance between your professional and personal commitments.

If you need help crafting the perfect response or want expert assistance with your resume, our team at Lancerbee can help. We know what employers are looking for and can give your career documents the boost they need to hire you. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

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