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Why working more than 40 hours a week is not a good idea

Posted on: July 3rd, 2014 by Walid Abou-Halloun
Categories: Business. Tags: Productivity and Work week.

Why working more than 40 hours a week is not a good idea

Long hours at work are not always a badge of honour. Are you putting in more than 40 hours per week? If you are an entrepreneur, working hard to carve a niche for yourself in this competitive business world, putting in 50-60 hours a week is quite normal. However, studies suggest that slogging for over 40 hours a week simply makes you tired and more importantly unproductive over a period of time.
Back in the 1900s Ford Motors conducted tests to determine the optimum number of hours required for work productivity. The study concluded that 40 hours a week was the most viable choice compared to a 48 or 55 hour week. The productivity in case of a more than 40 hour work week may seem to show a rise initially for the first 2 weeks but drops drastically thereafter. Many more recent studies in countries all over the world have yielded similar results.

Scheduling tasks according to your energy levels

Setting up an effective schedule is a vital part of ensuring you have an effective day. It is important to schedule your work on the basis of your energy levels. Our productivity depends more on the amount of energy we have, rather than the number of hours we put in. In fact, working out of a set schedule and stretching yourself for a long time can have a highly negative impact on our productivity as well as your health. Spending more time at work ineffectively means more stress, less family time, less hours of rest and sleep and overall disruption to your work-life balance.

Maintaining a Work-Life Balance

Workaholics may not agree to but working for longer hours usually relates to more ineffective hours in the day. In most cases it is observed that work completed into the evening after the scheduled 8 hours of the day needs to be re-worked or reviewed. With your brain and body exhausted these extra hours often turn out to be simply useless.

How to change your bad habit

Although people are often frustrated with their long hours they sometimes get caught in the cycle and do not know how to break out of it. Below are a few tools that may help you.

1. Identify your goals.

  • Stop and think about what you want to achieve.
  • Do you want to get a promotion or run a marathon?
  • Not defining what you want to achieve will make it hard to achieve it.

2. Complete a time audit.

  • Write down the amount of time you currently spend on these activities.
  • It may seem tedious but it’s important to understand where your time is going.

3. Create a time plan.

  • Map out block of time in your week dedicated to achieving your goals.
  • It may seem silly but successful people plan their week and don’t let it control them. Below is an example.
Time Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri Sat
8:00am Go for run Drop kids at school Go for run Go for run
9:00am Plan for week
10:00am Lead team event Research time

4. Monitor it.

  • Don’t create a time plan and never look at it again.
  • Review it weekly or monthly and tweak it until it works for you.

40 hours a week is the best way to get the most done for your overall happiness and longevity. If you are consistently working for 50 or 60 hours a week, it is time to rethink your strategy as it will have a negative effect on you as an employee, business owner or as part of an organisation.

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