Fancy reducing your work day to 6 hours and still bring home the same level of income and be just as productive? It sounds impossible. However, according to a Swedish experiment, you can. How? Plus, what will you and your employer gain from it? In the mists of time, it was decided that dividing the day into three 8-hour blocks for working, sleeping and relaxing was the perfect thing to do. This was a long time ago, when work and home life were still kept strictly separate from each other. Since then, work and home life have overlapped more and more, which means many people are working 24/7. This results in stress, anxiety, reduced productivity and even a burnout. Things need to change and improve according to a whole host of experts. They propose working less as opposed to more. But how do you do that?
With the arrival of the New Way of Working, the traditional 9-to-5 working day has already experienced a shake-up. Many companies allow their staff to arrange their own hours and they don’t need to be in the office every day as they can also work from home. The ultimate goal is the 6-hour work day, which involves you earning the same amount of money and being just as productive. This is a trend that started life as an experiment in Toyota’s Swedish service centre in Gothenburg and delivered so many benefits that many other Swedish companies implemented the 6-hour work day.
A number of benefits to the 6-hour work day included increased productivity, more profit, employees were less tired and stressed, and customer satisfaction levels increased. But how is this possible if you work fewer hours? The secret lies in the time we unwittingly waste on useless tasks. English research shows that no less than 60% of office workers are distracted throughout the day, particularly by emails and social media. This means that you can’t really focus at any point on your work, which costs a few hours of productivity a day.
If you want to introduce the 6-hour work day into your life, now is the time to discuss how your manager feels about this experiment. Explain that you aren’t going to reschedule work – you are going to do more in less time. You don’t need to add this to your employment contract and your pension will stay the same. Suggest you are going to try it for a month before you start. Then discuss how both parties feel about it. In the month before, start setting out all your tasks into fifteen-minute slots. Then start with one month so you can properly compare your productivity levels. Don’t forget to tell your colleagues about your plan: make sure they know that you won’t be passing the buck.
Do you have the go-ahead? Remove all unnecessary meetings and events from your diary, block social media with an app like Strict Workflow. Set all your email and WhatsApp notifications to silent. Work from home or put your headphones in so you won’t be distracted. Concentrate on what is on your to-do list. Forget multitasking – work on one task at a time. You will notice that you achieve just as much in this 6-hour work day as you would in a normal 8-hour work day.
Further reading: The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris. He explains why he thinks the concept of working hard until you retire is outdated. Instead, he proposes doing what you love now instead of putting it off for the future.
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