“Working less will guarantee happiness and joy of life, instead of frayed nerves, weariness, and dyspepsia.”- Bertrand Russell
Are you on 24/7, travelling all over the place, texting from your bed and putting in 80/90 hours a week? Is your work-life balance so skewed that the ‘life’ element is off the scale? If so, try to find time to read this post because maybe working less could save your life, company and family life.
It will take some time to get rid of the long hours culture but we are getting there. It is slowly dawning on the general masses that working less is not only much better for your health but will increase happiness in family life and will also be a boost for the economy. As far back as the 1930s, John Maynard Keynes, the famous economist, was speculating that by the year 2030, a 15 hour working week would be perfectly feasible given technological advances. Still a long way to go.
A motor company employee in South Korea recently wrote that it was impossible to work less than a twelve hour day: “Almost everybody working in this country is suffering from the same horrible thing every day for life. I want to get out of here. We want life.”
But is there any scientific evidence for this or is it all wishful thinking on the part of a minority who have seen the light?
Working less will cut sick leave.
Did you know that Greece has the longest working year in Europe? They put in 2,000 hours annually on average. Now if working longer means more productivity, then Greece should be leading the European economy but it is not! In fact German productivity is 70% higher than theirs even though their working year (1,400 hours) is much shorter. There may be other factors at work here. But Germany, Holland and Belgium are leading the way on shorter working hours. In fact, experts are now recommending that the 40 hour week should be reduced to 30 hours.
The Gothenburg city council in Sweden is hoping to experiment with a project where they will split test two different departments. The first will work 30 hours a week (6 hour day) while the other one will do the normal 40 hour week. They hope to be able to show that the shorter working week will mean fewer sick days off and more productivity. They also expect employees on the shorter week to be in better mental and physical health.
Work smarter, not harder or longer
The key to all this of course to make better use of your time at work. This will reduce your stress levels and give you greater job satisfaction. There are various ways you can get things done in a shorter time and also allow us to have breaks so you are not overwhelmed by weariness. This will reduce your stress levels and give you greater job satisfaction. Try some of these, if they suit you:
- Talk to your boss if you feel you are being given too many unreasonable challenges.
- Ask your employer/encourage your employees about the possibilities regarding flexi time and how much of the work you can do at home. Not for everybody because the home environment may be chaotic!
- Set yourself mini goals for doing important tasks. Set an alarm for regular breaks. These can be increased during the day as you get more tired.
- Limit your to do list to the top priority jobs. Get these done in the morning when you are at your best. The motivational high will help you through the rest of the day because of having achieved those really demanding tasks.
- Orient your goals to the tasks you have achieved rather than how long they took.
- Keep a separate list of ‘done tasks’ to help your motivation and also see your progress. This works better than cancelling them off the to do list.Working less multiplies health benefits
Working less multiplies health benefits
There are lots of studies done on how your health, work-life balance improve and overall how your own productivity is boosted, when you work less.
One study shows that being able to pursue a hobby, sport or other interest can actually boost creativity. Employers should try to create a culture where wellness is encouraged as being an integral part of productivity.
One alarming article in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has found that there is a direct correlation between domestic conflict and work burnout.
You can help the environment by working less. Shorter working weeks in 2008 in Utah helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 10,000 metric tons.
The best news of all is that if you start saying ‘thank you’ to coworkers and employees, you can increase their productivity by up to 50%. This was the result of a study at the University of Pennsylvania.
Now before you rush off to that meeting, how about saying thank you to your staff for all their hard work and encourage them to take a break?
Featured photo credit: Exhausted/baratunde via flickr.com