One of the most valuable things I ever learned was to decompartmentalize my false notions about how much daily work I should do, and when I should do it.
Societal Programming trains you to believe that “work” is something you do between the hours of about 8am and 5pm or 6pm, on Mondays through Fridays. When you get home after work, you’re supposed to stop working. You’re supposed to relax and unwind from the long day. Also, on Saturdays and Sundays you’re also supposed to avoid working unless you have to, but rather spend time relaxing with your family.
There’s just one problem with this system: it sucks. If you add commuting time (the average American spends 51 minutes in the car daily, to and from work) then you’re easily working 50 or 60 hours a week at a typical, full-time corporate job or business. Long, nine-hour days at the office and in the car means you’re going to get tired, stressed, and unfocused, even with breaks. Even if you’re at the office for eight hours, you’re only getting about two or three hours of real work done.
Worse, you’re going to start to think that work is a painful and grueling process, instead of something exciting and fun. You’re going to start to look forward to weekends so you can “relax.”
Excuse me, but that sounds horrible. I suppose if you’re an extreme Type-A workaholic, that schedule would be great (and good luck not dying of a heart attack before age 65). But for the other 90% of us, I think there’s a better way to do it.
I do something completely different. Generally speaking, I work every day, seven days a week. However,
- I only work three or four hours a day. (I know because I always work with timers or a stopwatch.) Sometimes there are exceptions where I work five, six hours or more, but the norm is three to five.
- The hours I work are real work hours, not wasted work time like so many corporate office workers have to deal with. The typical office worker gets about two or three hours of work done in eight hours of working. I get three hours of work done in three hours. I’m working less than half the time and getting at least the same amount of work done if not more.
- I work literally whenever I want. For example, I might work an hour in the morning, then go see a movie in the afternoon, then work another hour or two, then go out in the evening, then do another hour before bed. Or I might sit down and blast out four focused hours all at once and take the rest of the day off. It depends on the day, my mood, and what I’m working on. The point is, I work when I want to, not when the work is “supposed” to be done based on some external (and irrelevant) societal standard.
- I take days off literally whenever I want. There is no boss, customers, or clients telling me when I’m “allowed” to take days off. Nope. If I want to take a day off, I take a day off. Granted, I love to work, so I don’t take very many days off, and even when I travel for fun I usually work a little. But again, it’s because I choose to, not because I have to.
When you follow a schedule like that, your entire view of work changes. Freed from the 8-5 Mon-Fri model:
- You never get tired of working. You never get burned out. Only rarely do you get stressed out.
- Instead of work being this massive monster pain in the ass, work becomes an enjoyable daily activity you actually look forward to. It becomes fun to do.
- If you’re self-employed (and you probably have to be to have this kind of schedule) it becomes easier to form more disciplined work habits. It’s always easier to form a habit if you do it every day instead of just five days a week.
- You can spend much more time with family and friends. You can spend more time on hobbies and/or physical fitness.
- Quality of live improves in just about every way.
As always, remember that just because society dictates something that should be done the “right way” doesn’t mean it’s the best way.