I kicked off January 2014 with a mission: reduce my working hours to increase my productivity. In case you missed it, here’s the idea in its entirety from Day 4 of my New You for a New Year series:
The major benefit of building this career for myself is that I can and do work around my family’s schedule. My typical working months are January through May and then September through December (up until the holiday break).
I took six months off for a big move in 2013. The months I did work this year needed to count, and for the most part, they did. I started off strong, but I could have finished with a bang … and I didn’t. And that’s okay, but I need to stretch my comfort zone and push through procrastination and burn-out once and for all.
It’s 2014 today! I have a new plan for the year, and this will be important as I set my goals and schedule for the coming months. This may seem paradoxical to the issue, but I’m going to reduce my working hours.
I’m super excited about this idea and dying to share. I have a potential seven working hours every weekday (while my children are at school and the house is quiet). That’s thirty-five hours a week to myself. Up until now, I’ve tried to fill those hours with laser-focused production and an occasional day off here and there. That’s produced epic failure, major burn-out and unhappiness.
I’ve been thinking about it lately: I don’t know anybody who works a laser-focused eight-hour day without losing their marbles. And when I say laser-focused, that’s what I mean: set the timer, the only task in front of you is the task at hand. No phone calls, no chit chat, no email-checks, no Facebook status updates … just work that allows you to cross important things off your professional to-do list.
Most people go to work and take plenty of breaks, interact with their co-workers, and get up for a stretch and a stroll.
Meanwhile, I’m locked up alone in my house with the work that needs to be done. I don’t even allow myself to stop and use the bathroom while I’m on the clock! It can wait until the timer goes off (I do 50 minute work sessions with 10 minute breaks in between). That uber-strict regimen isn’t working; it results in two weeks of production, four weeks of burn-out.
Therefore, I’m only going to work four hours per day, Monday through Friday, with two personal days and one family day scheduled each month. Additionally, I’ll be taking off June, July, most of August and most of December.
Of course there will be tinkering outside of work hours. That’s why I read business books on Christmas day. As I said before, I love this shit. But, the hard stuff, the stuff that I don’t want to do because it’s not fun and easy, that gets done every weekday during my four-hour, laser-focused work session.
I’m excited to share my results.
Okay, I’m still ridiculously excited about this idea. So much so that I will talk your ear off when I get going about it. My husband has suffered through hours of a one-sided conversation about how much I’m getting done with my four-hour workdays.
What I’ve realized is this: Creative energy isn’t cheap; it’s quite costly on both the mind and spirit. Most of what you do with your working hours requires great innovation. Your work involves less mundane tasks than you’d expect to complete during a typical 9-5 at a traditional job. A creative career is full of new ideas that are taxing to manifest.
By end-January, I will have worked a total of 76 hours (January 1-31st minus weekends, two holidays, one family day and one personal day). I’ve kept a running log all month long, and I tracked every single thing I did with those hours. Additionally, the reduced workweek has allowed to to complete unfinished business, lose some weight, stick to my budget and eat healthier. I’ve kept track of personal goals in my progress log as well.
The results have been so astounding that I’ve decided to keep a progress log for each working month in 2014. I’ll share the document here on the last working day (January will be released this Friday!). I can hardly wait to share! In the meantime, please share with me: