In the last few companies I worked with before becoming a full-time content maven, we knew and heard about colleagues who work over 12-hour days on a regular basis. I’ve put in a couple of long hours over my career, but never on a daily basis. Based on experience, it doesn’t make sense why companies encourage and reward employees working long hours.

And it’s a common problem in the IT field where computers and systems must run 24/7 and tasks done after hours when the fewest number of people are signed on the network.

With each passing hour after the tenth hour, I became less effective. What took me two hours to do during overtime would take me only 20 minutes to do when I’m fresh and well-rested. When I two hours less sleep than usual, I become sluggish for the entire and tend to procrastinate (and I’m not a procrastinator by nature). Things I remembered easily slipped my mind five minutes after thinking about them.

I talked to a client, a vice president, a couple of nights ago. He was about to go to sleep and we started chatting about sleep. He couldn’t understand how people perform well on so little sleep as he needs sleep like I do.

Early in my career especially before the kids came along, I worked longer hours whether or not I needed to because management viewed it as a good thing. Good thing equals promotions and opportunities. The other thing I noticed — working from 9am to 7pm was viewed more positive than someone who worked from 7am to 5pm even though they’re the same number of hours.

Of course, we won’t see a culture change in the near future toward returning to the 9am – 5pm work week or providing more vacation time. Not with the worries of losing your job to India or another country where its people work for less money and longer hours. However, many articles report that Generation X and Generation Y want more work-life balance.

I belong to GenX. In the mid-’90s, I wanted to climb the ladder and fast. By the late ’90s and early 2000, the ladder lost meaning. Of course, I wanted to get promotions and such, but not by sacrificing my family and life outside of work. This change didn’t come because of GenX, but rather parenthood. Folks in my generation weren’t even having kids yet — so there wasn’t a Gen X influence.

However, I also value enjoying my life and experiencing new things and making friends. We reflect more on memories from outside of work than work. Sure, I’ve got fond memories of something I accomplished at work or a screw up that I can’t forget in spite of trying — I think more about memories involving family, friends, and activities.

Cliche’ but true — how many people look back on their lives and wish they had worked more? When people ponder their past and wishes, work-related regrets rarely come up. It’s more “spend time reading, spend time with family, travel…”