People love to hop on the cross at work. “Oh, you know, just been grinding away… things are so busy…” I once had a lady I worked with tell me she was finishing work around 11pm-midnight every night, to the point that her husband was getting upset. (Logically.) Funny thing was, if you asked anyone else she worked with, no one really understood what she did. She was one of those people who had been around for a while and changed jobs a lot and no one wanted to fire her, but she was in some department/division where her direct manager barely had any clue what she was doing. He definitely wasn’t assigning her deliverables; he was probably barely meeting with her, to be honest. So despite probably not understanding her own job, she was somehow working about, oh, 72 hours a week or so? I doubt that’s 100 percent true, but what do I know? I’m rank-and-file, baby!
Here’s the thing, though: there is actual, legitimate research that shows that if you work more than 50 hours a week, your productivity drops off. If you work more than 55 hours a week, your productivity is at a place where there’s really no point to working anymore. A person who claims they work 75 hours/week is essentially as productive as someone who works 54 hours a week. Those 21 hours of difference? That’s a full day of your life, essentially. Why are you sacrificing that for no extra productivity? You think it’s gonna lead to a raise? ROFLMAO.
Here comes the familiar cry from the peanut gallery: “But there’s so much to do…”
Indeed, there is. There always will be. Because even when there isn’t that much to do, you’ll claim there’s a lot to do — The Busy Trap — and trick your brain in the process. You want to know how to work less and still be successful? I’m here for you:
- Maximize your weekends. The five-day work week came about for a reason. It’s stuck around for another reason. Here are some suggestions.
- Talk a walk once in a while — even during the work week.
- Stop and think about what you’re doing at work a couple of times a day.
- Set an agenda for your day based on what’s important.
- Check your e-mail less.
- Don’t go to meetings if the meetings don’t have a goal behind them.
- Schedule some uninterrupted work time.
- Realize that technology was supposed to make things easier, not more complicated. Find your systems and use them.
If you’re a manager, there’s a whole ‘nother series of things we could talk about, but it comes down to this: realize you’re more coach than war general leader, and realize getting out and talking to people who work for you isn’t akin to original sin.
None of this is as complicated as we try to make it. Honestly. You don’t need to work 72 hours/week. Those deliverables will be there, your boss will still barely notice they were achieved, and all that. Go spend time on what matters: family, life, and experiences. You’re better for it.