The Problem With the Traditional 8 Hour Work Day

The Problem With the Traditional 8 Hour Work DayToday, we have a post from my friend and personal finance blogger Harry Campbell.  

Harry started blogging about personal finance on his main site Your PF Pro a few years ago and enjoyed it so much that he started a second site dedicated to finding the perfect work-life balance at The Four Hour Work Day.  When Harry is not blogging, he works full-time as an aerospace engineer and enjoys surfing and playing beach volleyball.

Traditionally, in the United States our work days have been 8 hours long and we trudge into the office 5 days per week (and 2 weeks of vacation time is standard).

This pattern dates back to the Industrial Revolution – yeah, the cultural and societal revolution that happened over 200 years ago.  We’re usually a little bit slow to catch up to the rest of the world I guess.

You’d think by now we’d have realized our way of doing work is a little outdated.

You’d also think we might have come up with something that works a little better. But so far we haven’t.

As you’ve probably noticed, the model we’re stuck in now doesn’t make much sense. It seems like we’re only continuing to carry on with it because it’s one of those things we’ve “always” done.

But as companies strive to be more innovative and coax more productivity out of workers, we’re starting to question how great the set 8 hour workday really is. We’re realizing that this system comes with a lot of problems and challenges for modern employees and employers. Today’s millennials are demanding more of a work-life balance than ever and it’s up to employers to adapt.


Many Positions Don’t Actually Require 8 Hours Worth of Work Every Day

One of the most obvious problems, both for employees and employers, is that the 8 hour workday causes a whole lot of wasted time.

Many positions within companies don’t actually require an employee’s dedicated attention for 8 full hours, Monday through Friday for a total of 40 hours per week. When was the last time you worked a full 8 hours?  And no, watching cat videos on Facebook does not count as work.

Employees are left bored and many are resentful of all the time they have to pass twiddling their thumbs at their desks. Employers are (perhaps not always knowingly) paying for many empty hours where nothing is getting done because there isn’t anything to do.

The way our current system is set up, we exchange time for money.

We show up 8 hours and our employers pay us for those 8 hours. The better way? Exchanging value for money. Not everyone takes 40 hours per week to do amazing work within their job, so why force talented people to adhere to a schedule that might not make sense?


The 8 Hour Workday Doesn’t Allow for Maximum Creativity and Productivity

As much as some companies may wish it were true, humans aren’t machines.

We don’t have on switches that can be flipped at 9am and then turn it all off at 5pm. While having a consistent schedule does help with efficiency and productivity, the normal 8 hour schedule most of us work now doesn’t take advantage of human beings’ natural rhythms and flows.

Personally, I know that I do my best work in the mornings from about 8 am – 11 am and at night from 8 pm – midnight.

People are more often creative and work best in blocks of time throughout the entire day with periods of rest and downtime in between. The set 8 hour workday doesn’t allow for this.

The brain isn’t designed to do hard work and constantly focus for that set amount of time without multiple breaks.

Additionally, some people are naturally better workers in the early morning hours, while others do their best work in the afternoons and still others are true night owls.


People Just Don’t Like the Restriction

If you’re supposed to get 8 hours of sleep per night, and you’re forced to work another 8 hours, that only leaves a third 8 hours for all the rest of your life.

Often, 2 of those hours are eaten up by a stressful commute to and from work and schedule you’re forced into, which realistically leaves only 6 hours for family, relaxation, exercise, hobbies, and chores or errands.

Unsurprisingly, this way of living can be extremely unsatisfying.

Companies that refuse to deviate from the traditional 8 hour work day may soon find that they lose their best workers and talent to either A. companies that are embracing more forward-thinking models and allow for remote work, flexible hours, or other alternatives to the old-school 9 to 5, or B. entrepreneurship.

Employees with a heavy skill set and a drive to succeed are realizing that there’s a better way than an enforced 8 hour workday. With the rise of side hustles and side businesses, more and more people are making the transition from working for someone else to working for themselves.

We’ve seen a lot of stories in recent years of the greed in Corporate America: board members flying private jets while their employees are getting laid off and large bonuses being awarded only to upper management.

Why would you toil away working your tail off when someone else gets to reap all the benefits?

The traditional 8 hour work day is, simply put, old and not useful to us anymore.

It’s an inefficient way to work, because it creates many hours of empty, wasted time. But times are changing. Employers are very slowly realizing that a new way of doing business is taking over, and employees are realizing that if they no longer find the 8 hour workday in someone else’s business is acceptable, they can run their own business, set their own schedule, and be in charge of their own freedom.

Readers, what do you think about working a traditional 8 hour work day?  It might be a good starting point for most of us but doesn’t it make sense to find a more flexible job or go out on your own and start your own business?

Tips To Manage Your E-mail Better

2236649349_4985cc57d9_nTo some, managing your e-mail may seem very easy. A post on the subject may seem repetitive. However, to others an e-mail inbox may be the source of a lot of stress. I receive many, many e-mails each day and I’m sure many of you receive even more than I do.

Some days I want to just close my laptop and run away. Don’t worry, I actually love to receive e-mails, but sometimes receiving so many e-mails each day can be overwhelming.

Usually, I wake up to a few hundred e-mails each morning, and that doesn’t even include the hundreds of e-mails that automatically are sent to my Junk folder. The weekends are a little lighter, but there are still a lot.

Continue reading this article on Diversified Finances.

Also, don’t forget to read my wedding rant and planning update from yesterday. It is a doozy :)


Time Management According to Strengths

pink clockTime management is something that I’ve struggled with for a long time. I’ve struggled with it, mostly because it just seemed so easy to everyone else to just go go go all day long.

I’d listen, envious, while people talk about how they would get up an hour or two earlier in the morning to exercise, or get some work done, or just simply enjoy a leisurely breakfast. I’ve often harboured fantasies about waking up with the sun, pulling on my running shoes, and setting off into the misty morning for a few quick miles before work.

Unfortunately, when the alarm clock jolted me roughly from sleep, I would, consistently, hit the snooze button repeatedly until I’d snoozed away all chance of extra early morning productivity. I simply can’t bring myself to leave my cozy, comfy, warm bed in the morning. Nothing could rouse me from my slumber.

I spent a long time lamenting this feature of my behavior, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t do what came to other people so naturally.

Finally, I’ve realized and accepted that at this point in my life, I’m just not a morning person.

I’m not productive in the morning, so I’m better off spending that time sleeping peacefully, instead of hitting the snooze button every ten minutes for an hour. These days, I spend my nights being productive. I actually spend about an hour and a half getting ready for bed, doing all of the things I would’ve forgone in favour of “ten more minutes”.

I make my lunch, I make my breakfast (to take to work with me), I pack my workout bag so I can run on my lunch break, I lay out my clothing for the next day. Anything that allows me to sleep in a little later.

It’s working! Since I’m sleeping in later, I can stay up later. I spend a good 45 minutes of that hour and half before bed catching up on blog admin, scheduling my week ahead, and jotting down any ideas, thoughts, or to do’s in Evernote. This decompressing process I’ve started going through has helped me sleep so much better, since I have fewer thoughts running around in my mind when I finally lay my head down, it’s all written down.

Some people might think I’m lazy, some people might think “yeah, getting up sucks, deal with it.” Personally, I think I’m just finally in tune with my most productive times of day, instead of trying to force my ideal of when I should be productive. I’m most productive in the evening, so now I’m giving myself a chance to benefit from that.

Using Productivity Peaks to Your Advantage

By using your productivity peaks and valleys to your advantage, you can be so much more productive in a given day. For example, I generally run out of steam at work at around 3pm. I could have laser focus on a project all day, but once 3pm rolls around, things just sort of fall apart. I have trouble focusing, and I feel the need to get up and walk around or change tasks.

So, since I’m not being productive anyway, I take this opportunity to take my lunch hour and go for a quick run.

Exercising does the trick at getting me out of my funk, and I usually have enough energy left over to finish up the day’s work and prepare for the next day before heading home. Low points in energy levels, will power, or productivity don’t have to be loses. They can be turned into benefits by scheduling in relaxing activities, or, in my case, exercise.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the productivity cycle of a day. For me, I’m bad in early in the morning, good throughout the day, another bad spell at 3pm, and then pretty good in the evening. By scheduling my day around these strengths and weaknesses, I’m able to work with my natural habits, instead of against them.

When are your productivity peaks and valleys?