When you think of a “typical work-week,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? 9-5? 40 hours? Monday-Friday? The “daily grind?”
If so, you’re not alone. The 40-hour work week has been the standard in American culture for years; since October 24, 1940, in fact.
While the 40-hour work week may be the accepted standard in theory, however, it’s not necessarily the standard in practice.
As many of you Busy-Awesome readers are well aware, the time we spend working each week often extends past 40 hours. In fact, with the combination of budget cuts and technology advancements, many of us work longer hours while also completing the work of two people.
Can you relate? Do you ever feel overworked? Are you nearing burnout? If so, then read on; it might be time to shorten your work week, and this post will show you how.
5 Powerful Ways to Shorten Your Work Week and Boost Productivity
Now, before we dive into how you can shorten your work week, let’s first explore why you should do so. Because as I’ve explained in the past, one of the most important things to do when starting a new journey or working toward a goal is to find your why.
Why You Should Shorten Your Work Week
Did you hear about the study from Australian National University, which found that a healthy work week should be no more than 39 hours? (Yes, you read that right.) It turns out that for many of us, working more than 39 hours per week can negatively impact both our physical and mental health. Why? Because we have less time outside of work to practice self-care.
Need more convincing? Then consider the research done by University College London. In this study, researchers found that working over 55 hours per week leads to an increased risk of both cardiovascular problems and stroke. What’s more, longer work hours often correlate with a more sedentary lifestyle, which in turn, can lead to many additional health problems as well.
It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way
Many of us live in a world that glorifies an overworked lifestyle where people wear exhaustion like a badge of honor.
But guess what; it does not have to be this way.
You see, studies have shown that in a typical 8-hour work day, the average worker is only productive for around 2:53. No – that’s not a typo. The participants in this study put in 2 hours and 53 minutes of actual work within an 8-hour workday.
So what was going on the other 5 hours and 7 minutes, you ask? Most of those interviewed admitted to spending a significant amount of time checking social media, reading news, and chatting with coworkers during the day.
What’s more, even though employees didn’t spend those full eight hours physically working, the negative impact of chronic stress still set in. You see, despite taking “breaks” throughout the day, employees are still at work, which means that elusive work-life balance is missing. Without the necessary time away from the office, those familiar feelings of stress, worry, and pressure remain, which negatively impacts our mental and emotional health.
So this brings me to my next question: could reducing time at the office allow for a better quality of life without decreasing productivity?
I’m here to suggest YES! It can.
I firmly believe that cutting down on your work hours doesn’t have to mean a sacrifice in productivity. How can that be true? The secret is in working smarter and not harder. And to do just that, check out my top five tips below!
5 Tips to Shorten Your Work Week
Cut down on meetings
While meetings are undoubtedly beneficial at times, I’m sure most of us have sat in a conference room or two thinking, “why didn’t they just send this information in an email?” If you find yourself asking this question more often than not, it might be time to consider cutting back on your meetings (especially if you’re in a position to request a change.)
As Work Front recommends, “Instead of relying exclusively on status meetings, make better use of digital work management, task management or shared project-tracking tools with automated communication.” You could even shift the meeting to video conferencing, which would alleviate the wasted transition time to and from the conference room.
Practice Saying No
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, when we only say yes, when we spread ourselves too thin, and when we convince ourselves that we’re more productive when multitasking, we push ourselves to burnout. In turn, our work often suffers. By learning to say no to additional requests graciously, however, we can focus on our to-do list and complete our work in a shorter amount of time.
Looking for strategies to graciously say no? Check out my post Increase Your Productivity By Saying No here!
For many people, morning is a time for peak productivity. Unfortunately, once your colleagues arrive at the office, that laser-focus quickly dissipates. By getting to work a bit earlier, however, you take advantage of your peak productivity time when the office is still quiet; I think you’ll surprise yourself with all that you accomplish in that short amount of time.
As science continues to prove, every time we attempt to multitask — answer emails, check reports, and hold a conversation simultaneously — we’re both wasting our time and producing lackluster results. What’s more, we increase our chance of distraction.
By practicing single-tasking, however, and putting 100% of your energy and focus into one task, you allow yourself to get “in the zone” and stay there, plowing through your to-do list with much greater efficiency.
Want to learn more about single-tasking? Check out my 3 Simple Steps to Single Tasking here!When you practice single-tasking, you allow yourself to get “in the zone” and stay there, plowing through your to-do list with much greater efficiency. Click To Tweet
Work with a Coach
If you’re nearing burnout, you might also consider working with an Executive Coach to help you cut down on your work hours in a sustainable way. Coaches work with you to define your goals, highlight your priorities, and strengthen your decision-making skills. What’s more, they can asses your current work-life balance. They’ll help you figure out what needs to shift so that you’re putting your effort into what’s really important.
And there you have if friends, five ways to shorten your work week and why you should give it a try. Let’s do this!
Do you work a standard 40-hour work week? How do you balance work and life? Do you practice single-tasking? Let me know below!