9 Other Ways to Say “Long Hours”

Other Ways to Say Long Hours

In the hustle and bustle of work life, talking about “long hours” has become a common theme, whether it’s during a coffee break chat or in a more formal meeting setting.

However, constantly referring to work time as just “long hours” can become repetitive and lacks the nuance that the subject often deserves.

Whether you’re commiserating with colleagues, discussing work-life balance, or simply sharing your workday experiences, having a variety of expressions can make your conversations more engaging and relatable.

Let’s dive into some conversational alternatives that can breathe new life into how we talk about the time we dedicate to our jobs.

Other Ways to Say “Long Hours”

Extended Work Periods

These phrases shed light on the realities of jobs that demand extensive time commitments, offering a vocabulary that resonates with the hard work and dedication of individuals in various industries.

1. Marathon shifts

Example: “I’ve got a week of marathon shifts coming up with the project deadline approaching.”

Meaning: Refers to work shifts that are significantly longer than the standard, requiring endurance similar to running a marathon.

Usage: Suitable for describing extended work periods that are both intensive and lengthy, often in professions with variable schedules like healthcare, emergency services, or project-based work.

2. Stretching the clock

Example: “We’ve been stretching the clock to get the software update out on time.”

Meaning: Working well beyond expected or standard hours, implying a flexible but demanding work schedule.

Usage: Ideal for situations where employees voluntarily extend their workday to meet deadlines or goals, often in salaried positions where clocking in and out isn’t strict.

3. Overtime marathons

Example: “The team is bracing for another overtime marathon to finalize the client’s request.”

Meaning: Extended periods of work that go beyond the regular work schedule and are classified as overtime, suggesting not only length but also intensity.

Usage: Commonly used in contexts where workers are compensated for their extra hours, emphasizing both the challenge and the commitment involved.

Beyond the 9-to-5

You will find expressions that validate the extra effort put in after typical work hours, acknowledging both the challenges and the commitment of balancing work and personal life.

4. Burning the midnight oil

Example: “I was burning the midnight oil again trying to finish the quarterly report.”

Meaning: Working late into the night, far beyond typical office hours.

Usage: Appropriate for describing late-night work efforts, typically to meet a deadline or catch up on tasks.

5. Clocking in extra miles

Example: “She’s been clocking in extra miles to ensure the launch goes smoothly.”

Meaning: Putting in additional effort or work hours beyond what is normally expected.

Usage: Useful in acknowledging someone’s hard work and dedication, especially when they go above and beyond their responsibilities.

6. After-hours hustle

Example: “The after-hours hustle has become a norm with the current workload.”

Meaning: Engaging in work activities outside of normal working hours, often to advance a project or meet deadlines.

Usage: Used to describe work done in personal time, highlighting a blend of dedication and the pressure of workload.

Work Intensity

You will gain insights into how to describe continuous and demanding workloads in a way that highlights both the struggle and the perseverance involved, providing a nuanced understanding of what it means to be deeply immersed in one’s work.

7. On a grind

Example: “We’re all on a grind until this product is launched.”

Meaning: Engaging in hard, continuous work, with an emphasis on the relentlessness of the task.

Usage: Perfect for situations where the work is intense and ongoing, often used in startups or high-pressure business phases.

8. Pulling double duty

Example: “With John on leave, I’m pulling double duty covering his clients as well.”

Meaning: Working two roles or shifts simultaneously, or putting in effort equivalent to two people.

Usage: Suitable when someone is taking on additional responsibilities, often temporarily, to cover for others or to manage increased work demands.

9. Non-stop work wave

Example: “Ever since the merger was announced, it’s been a non-stop work wave.”

Meaning: A continuous and relentless period of work without breaks, resembling an unending wave.

Usage: Ideal for describing periods of intense work activity that seem to have no immediate end, often in contexts of significant change or challenge within an organization.

9 Other Ways to Say Long Hours Infographic

When to Use These Expressions

In Casual Conversations

Expressions like “burning the midnight oil” and “on a grind” fit perfectly into casual discussions about work. They offer a light-hearted way to share your work experiences without coming off as too formal or complaining, making them ideal for social settings or during breaks with colleagues.

During Formal Meetings

In more formal settings, such as meetings where work schedules or employee well-being are discussed, phrases like “extended work periods” and “pulling double duty” can succinctly convey the seriousness of workload and time management issues without diminishing the effort put in by the team.

In Personal Reflections

When journaling or reflecting on your work-life balance, expressions like “marathon shifts” and “clocking in extra miles” can help articulate the challenges and achievements of your work journey. They provide a nuanced understanding of the dedication required in your role and the personal impact of such commitments.


By using expressions that go beyond “long hours,” we not only enrich our vocabulary but also offer more insight into our work experiences.

Whether we’re sharing stories of late-night efforts, discussing the challenges of balancing work and life, or simply reflecting on our personal growth, having a range of expressions at our disposal enables us to communicate more effectively and empathetically.

So, the next time you find yourself about to mention those “long hours” again, consider sprinkling your conversation with some of these alternative expressions.

If you’re eager to expand your vocabulary further, consider exploring resources like Preply, where language learning meets real-world application.

Categorized as Casual

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