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The Five-Hour Workday … Reality or Mirage?

Angie Morgan, November 4, 2019


Five-Hour Workday

Two weeks ago, The Wall Street Journal’s Eric Morath wrote an article titled “The Five Hour Workday Gets Put to the Test.” I couldn’t resist sharing on LinkedIn because I knew my network would have a reaction to the subject line alone.  What I didn’t expect, however, was their level of engagement and insight:

  • 174+ comments
  • 1300+ likes
  • More than 240,000 views

Now, I’d love to say my brilliant commentary sparked this level of activity.  However, the article – and its ideas – were really the draw.

Let’s face it, we exist in an over-worked culture and it’s not just at our place of employment.  Being hyper-active during down time is also a thing.  (I recently posted a piece on how you need a “functional alibi” to tell you it’s okay to relax from time to time – a mind trick to stop seeking gold stars when you really should be checking out.)

I believe we’ve fallen into a habit where we operate at one speed … and it’s pretty fast.  It extends to many areas of our life because it has to in order for us to achieve everything we want to do.  The unintended consequence of this pace, though, is that we’re missing out on enjoyment.  Hence, the five-hour workday and its appeal.  What if we eliminated all the unnecessary “stuff” from our place of employment in order to enjoy our lives both inside and outside of work more?  Tempting, isn’t it?

Now, I can’t walk into any of your businesses and change your work policies to implement less time on site.  But, here’s what I can do – give you ideas on how to streamline your day so you’re more productive.  If, perhaps, you begin to implement any of these, then maybe you can help shift your culture to more of a performance-based than optics-based organization, where the quality of work is more valuable than the quantity of hours it takes to do it.  Here goes:

  • Organize your calendar with intention.  Look at the next month and plan ahead.  Block out periods of white space so you can use that time to think strategically and/or work proactively.
  • Complete each day creating a realistic “to-do” list for the next day.  At the end of each day, you have greater clarity of what needs to be done the next day in order for you to progress.  This saves you time in the morning so you don’t have to show up wondering where to begin.
  • When you start work, complete the “worst first” – i.e. do the thing you want to do least first so you don’t have to give it mental energy throughout the day.
  • Never lead a meeting without an agenda … never.  An agenda-less meeting is a huge time waster for everyone involved.
  • Re-imagine meeting times. Sometimes meetings are 7 minutes – don’t let your Outlook calendar meeting blocker convince you otherwise.  When you’re done, be done.

Here’s my challenge to you this week: Strive for Five.  Try to eliminate one-hour of unnecessary activity each day to reclaim five hours of your time each week.  I’d love to hear from you on what you intend to eliminate right away.  (I’d also love to hear what you’d like to do during any time you reclaim for yourself).  Email me: amorgan@leadstar.us.

Share: | Tags: Goal Setting, Growth Mindset, Productivity