If you’re American, you probably classify yourself as a workaholic, or think “the work never ends” (because you often answer your e-mail on weekends or at nights). This is admittedly all a small part of “The Busy Trap,” which in turn very few people can reconcile with “Being Happy.” But even if you’re a 12-hour/day warrior all the time, the sheer reality is that there’s about 2,000 working hours in a given year for most jobs. That’s the base, though. That’s where things start from. It’s actually lower than that.
Via McKinsey, you might be spending 28 percent of your time answering e-mail. That’s 560 hours out of 2,000. (By some accounts, that 560 hours figure is too low.) If you spend 12 hours per week in meetings (which is low for some people), that’s another 600 hours per year. At this juncture, you’ve gone from 2,000 hours to 840 hours — and you haven’t really done any actual work. You’ve just answered e-mails and sat in meetings.
Now let’s say you spend 1 hour per day doing stuff like reading news articles, personal e-mails, Facebook, whatever else — which is honestly fine, because your brain needs a break — and now that 840 has become 590.
So think about this: you have about 590 hours of legitimate, actual work that you’re going to do in 2016, give or take — and this is whether you’re someone who leaves at 5pm every day or someone that thinks they’re a 24/7 grinder. The number is around 590 in each case. If you think of yourself at work about 240-250 days this year, that’s about 2.36 hours of legitimate work per day.
Ignore how massively ineffective that sounds, and instead think about it like this:
- Think about how to set priorities.
- Think about how your habits are being formed and maintained.
- Think about how to improve how effective you are at the work you do.
- Think about the value of relationships.
- Think about what “leadership” actually means.
- Think about what’s essential to each day.
- Think about your mise-en-place.
- Think. Just stop and think.
2.36 hours a day to be legitimately effective and be doing work, in all honesty.
How are you going to spend it?