Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Is A 30-Hour-Workweek Realistic?

In 2015, Sweden ran an 18-month experiment in an elderly care home. Instead of the traditional eight, staff would work six-hour shifts for the same pay.

The question the experiment wanted to answer?

“Can work hours be cut without affecting productivity?”

The results were impressive.

The staff was less stressed and guests were happier.

Daily activities climbed and sick leave days plummeted.

Despite the experiment’s success, shorter work days remain controversial.

Inspired by Sweden, young organisations and start-ups have also played around with shorter days.

The results were mixed.

Some businesses flourished under the lean workday.

Whereas other companies struggled. 

The main flaw of the 6-hour shift?

Stress.

While some people get fired up by the idea of having more free time.

Other people buckle under the pressure of having to get more done in fewer hours.

But what about you?

Even if you’re a bundle of nerves, chances are you really don’t need to work a full eight hours.

You see, the typical workday is littered with busywork.

Writing emails, answering IMs from colleagues, visiting meetings, office politics, web surfing…

None of these activities are likely to earn your organisation (much) money.

If so, these activities are fat that ought to be cut out of your work routine.

Instead of toiling for pennies, you want to do work that brings in the big bucks.

But as you shift your focus to what’s most valuable, you’re going to run into a problem.

Producing quality work is difficult. Much more difficult than chiming in on your organisation’s Slack conversation.

Quality requires concentration.

Lots of it.

But our concentration is finite.

And once you reach your limit, your performance suffers.

Studies show that even the most advanced thinkers can’t work at peak performance for more than four hours a day.

Any attempts to push through your mental fatigue will likely result in mediocre work.

What’s more, squeezing out too much brain juice hurts tomorrow’s productivity.

Rest is vital to creating exceptional work.

Today’s run-down?

Working less is within your grasp. And it largely depends on two things:

Your ability to identify valuable tasks and your ability to concentrate.

Work with great intensity at what’s important and you can do more in less time.

Work harder, not longer.

P.S. Most of us can’t bang out four hours of focused work without taking a break. Consider splitting your work sessions into four one-hour increments. To help replenish your willpower, take a 15-minute break for every hour of work.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach