A typical office workday has its employees working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This 8-hour grind is not a magic number, sadly, but a product of an outdated workplace concept. On average, each employee is expected to have increased productivity during a 40-hour workweek – sometimes even more! However, studies show that expectations are meant to face disappointment because an increase in working hours does not necessarily translate to better output, and this is in terms of both quality and quantity. More free time is the latest hit!
Why is it having a shorter work week popular these days?
In a nutshell, working shorter hours within the week gives people extra time for things that mean more to them, may it be a hobby such as gardening or volunteer work that requires teaching kids at least 5 hours in a week. Hobbies and other meaningful work helps to give meaning or purpose to our lives and can even aid in fueling out passion and overall satisfaction at work.
How do I get started in getting more free time?
First off, you have to consider the tasks that are urgent and important. List them down and prioritize them according to when it is needed and how massive the task at hand is. You may then proceed with the following tips:
1. Set a workweek “budget”.
If you’re reading this article, it most likely means you want to work less than 40 hours a week. In this case, you have to set a realistic yet comfortable number of hours that you can’t be disturbed. Depending on the nature of your work and responsibilities, it can be somewhere between 15 to 30 hours a week. Make sure to stick to it for the rest of the week. If you change your mind and realize that you have to render more or less time, go for it the week after.
Suppose you picked 15 working hours for this week, determine the number of days you can work on your tasks for that week. If you need to be present online for most days of the week, perhaps a 3-hour work day for 5 days of the week is a good call. Just make sure that when you work, you will anticipate the distractions. If you still don’t have an idea how to manage distractions, don’t worry. We also have a separate article for that.
2. Determine a limited working time for each task.
This is known as “time boxes”. Usually, people have the tendency to stretch the length of work time depending on the amount of time allotted for the task. Therefore, if you give yourself the entire day to work on a task, effects can be detrimental as you’re prone to distractions such as other side tasks that are not as urgent or as important. Set at least one hour to finish one task. If you’re having trouble completing it within this given time-frame, consider breaking it down into smaller chunks of work.
For example, if you’re working on an illustration for your company’s poster, break down this large task into these smaller ones: Creating the rough sketch, smoothing out the lines, coloring in the image, and working on the finishing touches. It seems almost impossible to work on that illustration within just an hour (unless you’re super fast and talented allowing you to whip up an image within a very short span of time). Therefore, we can break down the smaller tasks into 30-minute or one-hour increments depending on the complexity of the poster that you intend to complete.
3. Master the art of setting boundaries.
This is a problem if you’re too hardworking and you don’t want to place the burden on anyone but yourself. While it’s a sweet and thoughtful gesture, keep in mind that you can’t do everything – and you don’t have to! Check your list of tasks and see if only you can handle it. If you think someone else may be up for the job, you may politely decline the task and recommend another person for consideration. Doing this will not only avoid bad blood in the workplace but can also help promote teamwork in the long run.
4. Dedicate a specific time slot for bulky and monotonous tasks.
One of the most common tasks that can really be exhausting is answering e-mails with similar content. Before you know it, this will burn you out even before the day starts.
If you don’t have to answer all the e-mails at once, it may be best to pace your e-mail tasks. Consider distributing the task for the entire week. If you’ve dedicated a 3-hour session for each day, allot 30 minutes of that to e-mails.
5. Never touch work when it’s not within schedule.
The rigidity will help you stay focused because of the limited time you need to spend on it. Aside from helping you reduce distractions, this will help you reduce the frequency of errors. In effect, this increases your overall efficiency.
6. Outsource the rest of your tasks.
If you have little experience working on a task, ask for help from experts. If you need some help looking for a virtual assistant under your niche, we can try to help you.
If you would like to know about the different techniques on how a team can improve productivity, we have created another blog post regarding this topic. You can read more about it there.
Where do I go from here?
The main point of reducing your working hours is to make time for more meaningful things. These may be in the form of quality family time, a hobby, or a charity movement. If you manage your time wisely, you may even be able to accomplish all three at once! At the end of the day, working will not define who you are. There’s so much more to life than that!