As someone who has hustled and done a bunch of different jobs over the years, I have had my fair share of 18-hour workdays. I guess, since I’m not lying, that makes me stupid, right?
Well, if that’s the case, here are just 8 jobs (at least 3 of them I’ve done) that do require 18-hour workdays from time to time.
8. Segment Producer
The Job: Ensuring a certain part of a TV program is written, directed, and produced properly for airing.
Here’s a job I used to do. When I was a segment producer for a certain TV network, I had to put in 24-hour days about once a week. This was because we had to sit with our editor as we ensured that they put together our raw footage exactly the way we scripted. This includes finding cutaway shots, making sure the audio and video go well together, and getting a crash course in both analog and digital editing (we edited twice back in 2007).
The show I worked on was a weekly show. Imagine how often I’d be expected to work those long hours if I were on a daily show.
7. Advertising and PR
The Job: Depends, but the ones who notoriously work long hours tend to be the ones who need to pitch to clients.
Here’s another job I also took on, and we’ve done all-nighters whenever we had major pitches. Yes, our bosses were in the trenches with us, which was great for morale, but it was a way of life. Imagine being in the office for over 24 hours straight then heading off to the client while still looking your best. It’s a modern-day miracle, is what it is.
6. Business Owners
The Job: Running a business, overseeing everything top to bottom. While some people seem to have it easy, most starting business owners are never off the clock.
Yet another line of work I’ve experienced, and let me tell you: being your own boss doesn’t always mean having all the free time in the world. When your employees are done for the day, you’re still doing bookkeeping (since as a starting company you don’t have your own accounting department yet), conducting interviews (ditto with HR), and if you’re a service-based business, doing client management. 18-hour days are the norm for a lot of business owners, and they just try to hibernate during the weekends.
5. The President
The Job: Running an entire country.
While it’s not feasible to have 18-hour workdays every single day, it’s inevitable that any president worth their salt is putting in more than a few of those across their term. Plus a bunch of all-nighters for good measure, during crisis times.
If your president values sleep more than their country, you have a problem.
The Job: Teaching students, planning lessons, grading quizzes and papers.
I took this line of work for a couple of years, and boy, did it take its toll on me. I will never trade it in for the world: it was a calling, and it was a fulfilling time, but there were countless days where I just had to take my work home with me. This was considering that unlike my co-workers, I wasn’t even taking my Masters at the time. I can only imagine how little sleep my co-workers had if they had night classes on top of the classes they actually taught. 18-hour workdays feel like a luxury next to juggling all of that.
3. Computer Programmers
The Job: Code, code, and more code.
More than a few computer people I know have scoffed at the idea of 18-hour workdays not being a thing. Like professional writers, more than a few computer programmers tend to have bursts of inspiration where they just can’t stop coding, and those can last days from time to time. During downtime, an 18-hour work day could actually seem like a reprieve.
2. Medical Practitioners
The Job: Whether doctors or nurses, our understaffed medical system works them to the bone. It’s no joke how difficult their workload is.
Medical practitioners are known for taking on 24-hour or even 48-hour shifts at a time, especially when medical facilities are understaffed. It’s a rarity to meet a doctor who does shifts like these who isn’t best friends with coffee.
1. Anyone Working Multiple Jobs At A Time
The Job: All of them.
Especially in a WFH-friendly gig economy, more people than ever have took it upon themselves to take on multiple jobs at the same time. 18-hour shifts just zoom by without them noticing. This was usually how I was for the first 10 years after I graduated, as I usually had radio, Masters, and a bunch of other side hustles on top of whatever my main job was at the time. So Imagine all those 18-hour workdays, then toss in the graveyard shift on radio on top of that.
In talking about these things, nobody is “glorifying” the 18-hour workday. We know it’s horrible. We know it’s not something to romanticize. But it is reality. It happens to so many of us. And those of us who do it are neither stupid nor lying. And may we all choose leaders who are sympathetic rather than dismissive of the reality we live in.
Have you ever worked an 18-hour workday? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.