5 Powerful Ways to Shorten Your Work Week and Boost Productivity





5 Powerful Ways to Shorten Your Work Week and Boost Productivity Are you facing burnout? Are you feeling overwhelmed and overworked? Are you ready to get out of a rut? It might be time to work smarter and not harder with these 5 simple strategies. #productivity #coaching #timemanagement #entrepreneur #workingwoman #selfdevelopment #personalgrowthWhen 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 Are you facing burnout? Are you feeling overwhelmed and overworked? Are you ready to get out of a rut? It might be time to work smarter and not harder with these 5 simple strategies. #productivity #coaching #timemanagement #entrepreneur #workingwoman #selfdevelopment #personalgrowth

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.

Yikes, huh?

5 Powerful Ways to Shorten Your Work Week and Boost Productivity Are you facing burnout? Are you feeling overwhelmed and overworked? Are you ready to get out of a rut? It might be time to work smarter and not harder with these 5 simple strategies. #productivity #coaching #timemanagement #entrepreneur #workingwoman #selfdevelopment #personalgrowth

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.

5 Powerful Ways to Shorten Your Work Week and Boost Productivity Are you facing burnout? Are you feeling overwhelmed and overworked? Are you ready to get out of a rut? It might be time to work smarter and not harder with these 5 simple strategies. #productivity #coaching #timemanagement #entrepreneur #workingwoman #selfdevelopment #personalgrowth

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 Powerful Ways to Shorten Your Work Week and Boost Productivity Are you facing burnout? Are you feeling overwhelmed and overworked? Are you ready to get out of a rut? It might be time to work smarter and not harder with these 5 simple strategies. #productivity #coaching #timemanagement #entrepreneur #workingwoman #selfdevelopment #personalgrowth

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!

Arrive early

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.

Start Single-tasking

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

5 Powerful Ways to Shorten Your Work Week and Boost Productivity Are you facing burnout? Are you feeling overwhelmed and overworked? Are you ready to get out of a rut? It might be time to work smarter and not harder with these 5 simple strategies. #productivity #coaching #timemanagement #entrepreneur #workingwoman #selfdevelopment #personalgrowth

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!

Question:

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!

75 thoughts on “5 Powerful Ways to Shorten Your Work Week and Boost Productivity”

  1. This is such a wonderful post! First of all, I feel better about not working 8 hours a day…somedays I feel guilty about that but I just can’t manage to be productive like that. I have read many articles on shortening work weeks and I know that has been tested in Nordic countries and Australia with a huge rate of success! After reading those articles, I now take Thursdays off but it was until I read this post that I stopped feeling guilty about it! So thank you for writing this!

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Andrea! I hear you; it’s so easy to feel guilty about “not doing enough,” isn’t it? I love to read that you’re now taking Thursdays off. That is fantastic!

  2. I work a standard 40-hour week, but I like how companies here in Sweden promote work-life balance! I tried going to work super early, around 7 or before 7 AM, and I’ve never felt more productive. I like how I have so much time in the afternoon to do some other stuff aside from work. But, now, I’ve been feeling a bit tired and I’m sleeping in so I go to work at around 8-9 PM now. I get more tired, I feel like I’m not doing anything much for myself. I should really go back to going to work early 😀

    1. Yes! Work-life balance is so important 💞 I love going to work early, too. As you say, it’s nice to finish work early and have the afternoon to yourself 🙂

  3. Learning to say no is essential and is something everyone can practice. I also love the idea of single taking and really getting that focus down!

    1. Thanks, Natalie! Saying “no” is definitely a challenge for many of us, but also SO important to getting things done 🙂

  4. The problem, for me, with blogging is that you can always be working and there is always more to do. I def need to say no sometimes and come up with more of a schedule so i can maximize my time!

    1. I hear you! When you work from home, it’s so easy to work ALL.THE.TIME. But if you can stick to a more regular schedule, that can be a gamechanger 🙂

    2. I hear you! When you work from home, it’s so easy to work ALL.THE.TIME. But if you can stick to a more regular schedule, that can be a game changer 🙂

  5. I totally loved this article and I agree on single tasking. I was caught in the multitasking trap my whole school and work life, before I read the amazing “The one thing” by Garry Keller, which I deeply recommend. Since then, I do not believe in multi tasking so much anymore, and I am being much more productive.

    xo Corina

    1. Yay! Another single-tasking convert 🙂 I haven’t heard of that book before; I’m going to check it out on Amazon now. Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. Ya, multitasking is a killer. I swear I end spending more time fixing the mistakes I made while attempting 2-3 things at once rather if I would have done ‘em separately.

  7. This is a super-interesting article. I totally admit I work a lot more than 40 hours. I absolutely love what I do and it often doesn’t even seem like work. BUT – reading about how extra work hours can lead to physical health problems…that made me re-think the number of hours I invest. I totally get how multi-tasking cuts down on productivity and I’m terribly guilty of that. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Absolutely! And it’s SO wonderful that you do what you love and it doesn’t feel like work. You’re living the dream! But yes, it is good to give your body and mind time to recharge as well 🙂

    1. It seems counterintuitive at first, but it’s amazing how much more I get done practicing single tasking 🙂

  8. bellegabriella1

    I needed these tips so much! I am always falling behind! I need to master the tip about saying no. It’s just so hard sometimes when you don’t want to let anyone down.

    1. I hear you. Saying no is one of my biggest struggles, too. I wrote a post about the power of saying no if you want some strategies 🙂 It’s linked in the post.

    1. I hear you. Saying no is definitely a challenge. When I’m struggling with saying “no,” I remind myself that saying “no” to something I don’t want to do is saying “yes” to something I value – time with family and friends, self-care, working on a passion project, etc. It sometimes makes the decision easier 🙂

  9. I am trying desperately to work smarter not harder! I feel like I can’t get in everything to one day. Trying to break it up in to more manageable time frames so I can check things off my list and not have so many unfinished projects.

    1. It sounds like you’re on the right path, Theresa! One of the ways I’ve been able to “up” my productivity level is by batching my work each day; I feel it makes me more efficient with my time.

  10. What a completely eye-opening post this is. The stats from a 8 hour days to 2:53 is so shocking that is a lot of wasted time. You gave some great advice here I am definitely going to be taking some on board.

    1. Let me know if it helps! I’ve found that blocking out my time has been a game changer in that regard 🙂

  11. I’ve seen these studies about so many employees who are productive for only a short time in the day and wonder how anything ever gets done : ). Seriously, you have to figure out what works for you and limit distractions!

    1. YES – you hit the nail on the head. It is so important to figure out what works best for you. 🙂

  12. I agree that multitasking isn’t all that good, it leads to distraction and, eventually, reduced productivity. That’s why trying minimalism might not be a bad idea – do less at once, but do it better.

    1. Yes! I absolutely agree. I’ve written a few posts on living a minimalist life. Simplifying definitely makes things easier 🙂

  13. Lyosha Varezhkina

    You post hit me in just perfect time. I am struggling with being slow doing my work and tend to extend pretty much everything. I need a productivity boost or I am done for!

    1. Yes, working in a distracting office is SO hard – especially when you’re one of the few actually trying to work. Has he considered wearing headphones or listening to white noise? (Or both?) I’ve found that to be a big help. Not only does it block out distractions, but it also alerts people that you’re working and makes them think twice before interrupting.

  14. I’m a sham which is a never-ending job, but that’s one area I really need to work on… getting up early before my kids. It’s hard because they both end up in my bed, but it needs to be done!

  15. I loved this post! So inspirational! And you’re so right about many people wearing exhaustion like a badge of honor. There’s so much more to life! The tips you gave here are super helpful and will certainly make my work week way more enjoyable! 🙂

  16. Amazing post Paula! I’m a strong believer in working from home and I’ve always encouraged employees in the past to do it when they can. So many companies agree with this method too, but some are still old school and don’t get it. It’ll be interesting to see what it’s like in around 10 years. I also massively agree with cutting meetings. I have always had a rule – if there is no agenda for a meeting I’m invited to, I don’t attend – err accept if it’s a boss! Meetings can be such a time suck and I’ve even been invited to a meeting once that talked about meetings. Argh!

    1. Thanks, Yolanda! Yes, it’s amazing how much time we can save working from home – even just in terms of the commute! And we’re on the same page about meetings; a boss-led meeting probably requires attendance. 😂

  17. twinspirational

    We are always trying to find ways of being more productive and efficient. These are great ways to shorten your work week.

  18. You had me so intrigued by the title and I pinned before even reading anything else! I so needed to read this as I’ve been trying to balance better lately and it ISN’T working. What you said about single tasking really spoke to me. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Absolutely, Justine! Let me know how single tasking works for you. It was a game-changer for me 🙂

  19. Such a great blog post. I need to listen to some of these tips. I find it really hard to say no. I love staying because so I feel like I always take on more then i can handle sometimes!

  20. Mary Leigh @ Live Well Play Together

    This is such a great piece. I work at home now, but many of these things still ring true. I’m more productive when I’m up early – when I practice saying no, when I single-task to get things done. (and from when I was in the office – a big YES! to fewer meetings….)

  21. This is an incredibly eye opening article. The 40 hour work week is expected and it standard literally anywhere that I have ever worked. I have shortened my own work week by making a clear schedule that is the same each week and I have really benefited from that. Thanks for sharing! Spread the word!

    1. Thanks, Sarah! And I’m thrilled to hear that you’ve been able to shorten your schedule by batching your work. That’s fantastic!

  22. Very nice article, I totally agree with you. It’s shocking to know that on an average day of 8 hr work, we are productive for only around 3 hrs. Now that’s a waste of a lot of time.
    I like your idea of single tasking, multi tasking most of the times creates a mess in our head and decreases our productivity. Great post.

  23. I agree completely with all of this! I do work a standard 40 hour week, but with morning commute, evening commute, etc, I am away from home 11 hours. I have read countless studies of countries that have shorter work weeks, but more productive employees who are happier and more engaged.

    1. Yes! I’m so glad you brought up the additional commutes and transition time. It’s amazing how much valuable “home time” that part eats up.

  24. Flavia Bernardes

    I love this post and it came at a really good time. I was just thinking about having designated themes for each day of the week, so that I could focus completely on just one thing. Your tip about single tasking makes me think I’m headed in the right direction 🙂 Yay to productivity!

    1. That’s fantastic! Yes, batch working and single-tasking are SUCH great ways to boost your productivity. Let me know how it goes! 🙂

  25. This is an incredibly powerful article and I 100% agree! America especially has the best ways to work so backwards. The majority of businesses and companies will encourage crunch-time, overtime, and working 60+ hour weeks. It shows loyalty they say! It’s so wrong!!!

    I really like that you pointed out that the average worker is only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes… I think if employees (and more importantly, managers) were more mindful of this we would begin to see a shift in the way work is done for the better.

    I think the really big problem though is that while individual employees may recognize their company doesn’t utilize time well, they may not have a choice but stick to the same inefficient processes. 🙁 If a company insists on having a bombardment of pointless meetings each week and requires attendance, the hopes of changing that might be slim. At best, you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle for change.

    All and all, I hope that more people will read this and find ways they can balance work and life better, and find more efficient ways to do MORE work in LESS time. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment! I completely agree with you; crunch time, overtime, and 60+ hour work weeks do NOT scream loyalty to me, that’s for sure. And I love your point about making managers more aware of these inefficiencies. While we’re definitely fighting an uphill battle against the long-held traditions of inefficient meetings, 10+ hour workdays, etc., if we start talking about it more often, hopefully, we can start making moves in the right direction 🙂

  26. Fortunately I am a teacher and I stay only maximum 5 hours in the high school, daily (in my country we have to teach at least 18 hours weekly). But I must write my lesson plans and other documents at home. Anyway, your tips are to be remembered when your boss overloads you.

    1. Hey, Johanna! It’s wonderful that you’re able to leave your work in a reasonable amount of time. Though, as you note, lesson plans and grading are no joke! That can take a lot of time. Thanks for your comment 🙂

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