• Over-working is unhealthy and unproductive
  • Scientific research proves that it is detrimental to your health
  • Aim for a 35-39 hour work week for optimum efficiency
Work is a neverending combination of annoyances, headaches, fire drills and catastrophes. There’s always some urgent top-priority task that needs to get done asap. Then, the backlog of core grunt work, which is the shit that really counts, just gets bigger and delayed further.

There’s no choice but to put in more hours each day just to keep your head above water. You’re forced to keep on grinding. Coming home in the late evening is now becoming the norm and not the exception.

By the end of the week, you’ve pushed yourself to the brink of exhaustion. You can barely stay awake on the commute home on Friday night. When you finally get home, you don’t want to do shit except collapse on the couch.

You’re busting your ass and putting in long hours every day and week. But, is this the best way to go about things?

The short answer is no and here’s why.

Research Shows Working Long Hours Is Shitty For You & The Company

All of those extra hours you put in working through lunch and late at night may give you the sense that you’re getting ahead, but it’s not entirely accurate. Yes, you’re probably getting more done but you’re spending more time to complete the same amount of work. In other words, your efficiency goes down, way down.

It’s like lifting a dumbbell at the gym. The first few times are easy but by the time you’re on the tenth repetition, you’re struggling. This is exactly what happens to you mentally when you work past the ideal hours.

There is a bunch of academic research including this study by Stanford University shows that once you go beyond 50 hours in a week, your productivity drops. If you push it further beyond 55 hours, then it really tanks. In fact, someone that puts in 70 hours in a week doesn’t typically produce substantially more with those extra 15 hours.

What does increase is the probability of dropping the ball and making more errors and mistakes. This results in wasted time and resources of having to redo, repair and/or repeat things again. And this costs the company money.

There are also the physiological and mental health aspects of overworking. This study from the World Health Organization states, “Working 55 or more hours per week is associated with an estimated 35% higher risk of a stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, compared to working 35-40 hours a week.”

Working more than 55 hours a week is a serious health hazard. In Japan, death from overwork is a thing. It’s called “Karoshi” which literally translates as overwork death.

Despite all of this data, people are often working past the normal 8-hour workday to the point of diminishing returns which becomes detrimental to their health and company.

The Ideal Number Of Working Hours

There are going to be days or maybe even a couple of weeks where you’ve gotta put in long hours. It could be because you’ve gotta put out fires at work, meet a launch deadline on a huge project or prep for an executive presentation. These situations are unavoidable and you’ve gotta work through them.

However, this kind of pace shouldn’t be the norm. There is an ideal range of hours that you should be working on a daily basis. And no, it’s not going to be an hour a day for a five hour work week - that’s a pipe dream.

The ideal number of hours to work in a week is slightly less than 40 hours. Roughly, you should target between 35-39 hours a week or about 7.5 hours a day.

This doesn’t mean that you should change your working status from full-time to part-time. You still need to put in your normal 40 hours and keep your full-time status, especially if you have kickass work perks and bennies.

But, instead of the full-throttle non-stop 8-hour day, you gotta incorporate breaks throughout the day so that it nets out to about 7 hours of work and 1 hour of mental recovery on a daily basis. This is key for managing work stress and tuning yourself for optimum productivity and happiness.

This target of 35-39 hours or 7.5 hours in a day isn’t some arbitrary figure. There’s science behind this too. People in Denmark consistently work these number of hours and that country consistently ranks as one of the happiest countries on the planet. And they’re just as productive as other overworked nations.

The best way to achieve the targeted time is to work in timeblocks and monotask with interval breaks. This way you can do more with less stress - that’s the idea here.

The key to making this work is to prioritize your projects and tasks and only do the most important things and have mental breaks in between - like taking a cofftea break, walking outside for five minutes or doing a simple one-minute meditation at your desk.

And remember, everything can’t be number one. Only the top priorities for the day make the cut. All of the other tasks should be punted to tomorrow or later in the week.

This will allow you to get in the zone with work and get that awesome feeling of making progress. And positive progress is what brings happiness at work. It’s like the kind of work joy you get when you see that things are moving forward.

Then, at the end of the day, you gotta disconnect from work and leave all the bullshit behind. The evenings are your time, not the company’s. It’s your time to relax and unwind from all the chaos of work. So, be sure to have unplugged evenings to digitally detox yourself and chill.

It’s All About Ideal Work, Not Over Work

You bust your ass. Every. Damn. Day. And by the end of the week, you’re completely tapped out. This kind of working pace isn’t sustainable long-term. You gotta dial it back so that you can operate at that ideal point - not too slow and not too fast, not too little and not too much. It’s the goldilocks zone.

The point here is not about avoiding work or doing the minimal amount of work and just cyberloafing all day. That’s a slacker mentality and that’s not you. This is about finding that ideal balance and achieving that kickass feeling of positive progress without being overworked and stressed AF.

When you get to this balance - and you most definitely will - you’ll find yourself in an upward spiral of productivity bliss and happiness.

It’s gonna be awesome.

Feel Better,

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