Do you really need to work 40 hours per week? Read on to find out!

How much do you reckon one should work? 40 hours per week? 8 hours per day? Could 4 hours per week be enough? Could 2 hours per week suffice? It’s 2016 and we still think that 18th century idea: 8 hours of work, 8 hours of free time and 8 hours of sleep should still be valid.

What does really matter: adding value, creating something, or working 8 hours for someone or ‘according’ to 8-hour modern-word standard? Who decides how many hours you have to work? You.

Before I try to answer the question about ‘target hours’, first we have to be on the same page. Namely, it does not matter how many hours you work. It is only the result that matters. I don’t mean achieving some ‘selling target’, but rather how your output can serve others and you.

If you’re in the service, outsourcing industry, you does not only serve your clients. The community around you also benefit from it. As you earn, you spend money letting other businesses grow, to put it very short. This means that ‘new jobs’ are not created by government that is eager to spend your money without giving it any forethought.

Unfortunately most of us have been working jobs that did not produce anything. Many years ago I was an intern in some government office and learnt that doing paper work does not produce any value. It’s even worse, when you blindly do paper work you waste time people from that create something.

In Poland, companies and entrepreneurs waste time and huge amount of money filling papers that stand in their way. A Polish white-collar worker is not a guy that is willing to help growing your business. A Polish white-collar worker can destroy your company or even have the power to arrange an audit that can span for many months while your business fades away.

Setting aside bureaucracy if you feel that you don’t produce anything useful, you can’t work efficiency. This is why to produce more you have to find what makes you tick and thrive. Only then can you ask yourself: how can I optimize my work?

Working smarter, not harder

Working more than 8 hours or sitting long hours in the office is detrimental for you, your colleagues and the condition of the project you work on. For many months I’ve been following that path, but realized that in the long run it’s downright stupid. Now my goal is to put as much value as I can within 8 hours. Yet, I still let ask myself if it is really necessary to work 8 hours. Sometimes 6 or 7 is enough. Sometimes less is better. Remember that you should manage your energy level, not time.

Manage energy, not time

How is it possible that some people can solve hard problems (hard problems can be addictive, by the way) ten times faster than other guys? Do they work harder or smarter? How does ‘smart way’ translate? What could I do to be more productive?

Food is your fuel

You are what you eat

Food is your fuel. You don’t have to buy ‘super food’, organic food, or whatever fair trade label it has. You don’t have to turn your diet upside down. Just pay attention to what you buy and eat. Read labels: the least ingredients the better.

Knowledge about healthy diets, healthy food is a low-hanging fruit. Just Google for it. Stick to simple rules like:

  • Avoiding sugar and salt
  • Drinking less coffee
  • Avoiding instant coffee!
  • Cutting down on sweets
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Eating more vegetables
  • Having 4-5 smaller meals, not 3 big ones
  • Preparing meals on your own!

It’s not easy, I know, but try to set some smaller goals like ‘for the next two weeks I’m going to drink 3 cups of coffee, not four!’.

Sleep is your ally!

The first thing most of us reach for when we need to do more is to cut down on sleep. Don’t do that unless you understand consequences and this is an emergency solution. Sleeping less makes your ‘sleeping debt’ grow and you will for sure have to repay that debt.

There are people that can sleep 4 hours, but most people need at least 7 hours of sleep. As you may suppose your sleep quality depend on food you eat throughout a day. Sleep quality is measured by deep sleep cycles. It’s also important that your last meal consist mostly of vegetables and proteins. Your body will thank you when it will not have to spend energy on digesting ‘heavy’ food.

Don’t forget to chill down and have a glass of water to before going to sleep.

Sport activity

It’s said that walking 10000 steps a day is beneficial for your health. Most of you have smart phones. Many have wearables. Use them to track the number of steps. Walk as much as you can. It’s easy to use your car (I don’t have one and see many advantages of that) than go by foot. Don’t treat Sunday as the only day to go for a walk. Make it a habit and do it every day.

Exercise in the morning. Cycle, run. Move.

Everything is interconnected

Sure, it’s easier said than done. A few years ago running one kilometre was not possible for me. It was time when I weighed 105 kilograms (now it’s 76-78). So shut the fuck up and don’t tell that my weight let me move around fast. Don’t blame other people for your situation. You’re the only person that is responsible for your situation, health and productivity.

Last but not least

Don’t watch television, especially morning and evening news. Television is not supposed to make you happy. News is all about bad news, catastrophes, riots, and all stupid things that someone did on other continents.

Sticking to healthy habits will make you more productive. By taking care of your body, your memory span will increase. You will be able to remember more. To finish tasks faster and in a more efficient manner. Food is your fuel and best medicine to boot. Food can detoxify your body. Don’t be temped into thinking that for every problem you can buy some drugs. It’s a crappy trap.

Be productive. Work smarter, not harder.