3 Lessons I Took from Working 12-hours a Day, 6-Days a Week

Are you working for yourself or for others?

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Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

The private security industry never sleeps. The nature of its services mean you are the eyes and ears of your clients at all times. In practical terms, your company must therefore have someone (or a team) on standby throughout the day and night. It becomes all the more complicated when you operate overseas, juggling with the element of time zones.

To bring context to what this translates to, I worked from 0630–1830 for three days, resting 24hrs then back on for the 3 night shifts from 1830–0630. As a graduate job, it was a great shock to the system, despite having worked the odd 13-hour shifts in hospitality here and there.

Although a handful of those days felt like absolute hell, I do believe you can only grow outside of your comfort zone. I withdrew my 9–5 job applications in favour of this because on average, I’d be working 16 hours more per week. When you’re working more, you inevitably learn more.

Having since left that environment, I have been able to reflect on my experience there and see the noticeable differences from a now 0800–1600, 5-days a week schedule. Here are three lessons that have now contributed to my self-development.

You can work these hours

I am by no stretch of the imagination a morning bird. I love eating full meals at 23:00 whilst surfing the web, and having three alarms just for snoozing purposes. I would write my university papers after a 20:00 nap, and enjoy the tranquillity of midnight.

The biggest reason for feeling a shock to the system in starting this new job was my overall work schedule. It became mandatory that I slept by 23:00 at the latest in preparation for a 05:45 wake up.

My winding down time also drastically reduced. Finishing at 1830, I had only 12 hours before I was back at work. In comparison to a regular 9–5, finishing work would usually give you around 16-hours before being back in the office the next day.

That’s not an exactly easy schedule for anyone, and it has since made me more appreciative and in awe of our key workers, such as medical practitioners, doing this day in and day out.

And yet, with the right mind-set, we all can do this. If it is self-development you are after, you either need to work more during the day, or remove certain activities so that you are prioritising what is important.

Working more hours in the day just makes more sense in reaching your goal as you are now delegating more time to sharpening your skills to get there. I don’t think it’s necessary to fixate over 12-hours (or any given number), at least not just yet.

Start with waking up an hour or two earlier to work, taking less breaks during the day, or swapping a wind-down activity for skills-training. Gradually, you will be putting in more time into the things you know are important and will naturally increase your overall work schedule.

The Potential of a 12-hour workday

Those who work 12-hours a day generally do so because their ambitions demand nothing less. Whether it’s starting your own company, or developing your side hustle after finishing work, you simply cannot achieve your goal without putting in the hours.

When I clocked in for my shifts, I placed myself in the mind-set of being available for learning. Some days were inevitably quieter, but as long as I turned up for work, I was open for opportunity.

Fish may never pass your side of the stream, but turning up with your fishing rod means you will always be there for when the chance comes. Over the course of a year, I was involved in travel risk assessment, resource delegation, and finance and asset management.

Simply put, you only learn when you are working. If you’re working more, you increase the chance of learning more.

I only ever want to work those hours again under my own accord

As well as realising it was possible working those hours and of my own potential, the most important lesson I took from this role was that I never want to work 12-hours again, unless it’s under my own accord.

Based on a salary, I divided my income per hour and saw my efforts being paid per hour. I was therefore only working for money. When I worked overtime on top of my 12-hours, I was taxed more. Putting in those hours of work as an employee only makes your boss richer, their contracts healthier and clients happier.

I felt that if I were to put in that level of commitment, sometimes 72-hours a week, I should do so for my benefit. At the end of the day, it is financial freedom that I am after, and getting there as an employee is a slow and often uncertain path.

This has made me audit my time more critically.

I still work on average 12-hours a day having left that role. However, with my new job requiring my time from 0800–1600, those extra hours of work are put into my self-development.

Specifically, I use those hours practicing my Korean language skills, in becoming financially literate, and on improving my writing skills through blogging.

My hours haven’t changed, but who I work for in those hours have.

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