What are you missing out on when you're working too many hours?
A lot of people don't like to think about this question. When I ask most entrepreneurs what they think they're missing out on, they'll say, "I'm not missing anything. I get my work done, and I'm making more money so I can have more things and so my family can be happy."
Very often, especially if you're an entrepreneur, the concept of lost opportunity usually just applies to income. It probably sounds familiar: "If I had done this project, I would have made more money" or “If I hadn't done this project and wasted my time, I could have been doing something else and making more money."
But what are you missing out on with the people around you: your loved ones, your friends and family? I’m not trying to guilt you here, but I really want you to think about it.
For me, when I'm working too many hours, a few things happen, some obvious and some more subtle. The more obvious thing is that I'm simply not available to play with my kids and hang out with my wife.
I primarily work from home, so if I'm not available and if I'm in my office, there's this sense that life is going on outside and I'm not part of it. I can hear it, but usually I'm tuned out, doing my work.
It might not be as bad as someone who is away for work more, but I can still feel it, and when I come out of my office to see my wife and kids, I can see that they're feeling it too. They miss me.
Another thing that happens when I'm working too many hours is that when I talk with other people, I'm not as present. I'm talking to them, but my mind is somewhere else, and I'm thinking about work.
As parents, we all say that we’re going to give our kids our undivided attention. But sometimes my kids are saying something and I'm not really tuned in, and I feel terrible for this. They're sharing with me that they want to connect with me, but I'm too busy in my head because I'm letting work take over me.
I want you to think about something. There are 168 hours in a week—24 times 7 is 168. If you do the math based on sleeping 8 hours a night, which is by most accounts the healthier thing to do, then 8 hours times 7 days is 56. 168 hours minus 56 hours sleeping is 112 waking hours each week. Let’s round that down to 100 hours, after you’ve taken time for showering, brushing your teeth, or whatever else you have to do when you’re not really present.
So we've got 100 hours per week where we can do what we want to do. Within that time, of course, you have your job. Say you need to work 50 hours a week: that leaves you 50 hours. Then you have your commute—say half an hour each way, which adds up to 5 hours a week—so you're left with 45 hours out of the 100.
Add on the time you take to get ready, the time you take for lunch, and you’re at about 60 hours, which is 60% of your waking time. So you have 40 hours left to be with your family, but maybe you have to cook and clean and so on. If that’s an hour a day, you’re down to 33 hours.
Then you might have other chores or responsibilities, and very quickly you get down to maybe 20, 15, 10 hours a week, depending on your situation. You might get a couple of hours a day, if you're doing things well. Some people don’t even have that much, so you have to make them count.
The question is, what are you doing with that free time? This is not just a concept of how many hours you're spending at work, but rather of how many things you’re taking on.
If you want to work a 4-day work week, or if you want to have an elegant, simple lifestyle business-wise, you’ll find that you have to cut away at things. It’s exactly the same with your life outside of work. You have to cut away at your number of personal commitments, and at the length of time you spend on them.
My kids are in the 10 to 12ish age range, and I see so many kids around that age that are so busy that they've got 30 hours a week of activities planned outside of school. I see kids that are up until all hours, drinking coffee just to stay awake. I just want to say to them, “Okay, well hold on.” They’re getting burned out. Even talking about it gets me stressed out and gets my heart rate going.
There's enough time to do the most important things we want, but there's not time to do everything. I once had a person tell me, "You can do just about anything you want in life, but you can't do everything."
Again, I don’t want to lecture you or guilt you, but I invite you to consider what it is that you're missing out on when you're working extra hours.
Do those extra hours really matter, especially if you're an entrepreneur, and you have control over your time? If you're working over 40 hours a week, do the extra 3 to 5 hours really make you that much money? On one hand, is it really making that much of an impact on your clients or the people you serve and their lives?
On the other hand, what kind of impact could the extra time make on the people around you, and your loved ones? Maybe you even feel like you don’t have time for anyone special in your life. Wouldn’t you like to make room for that?
There's a very simple question that I ask people when they tell me that they don’t want to work a 4-day work week. They tell me that their employees work 5 days, so they should too. They tell me they want to hustle.
Did you know, the hustle was originally a dance, back in the 1970s? It was a fun thing, but now it’s come to mean the opposite—working extremely hard, grinding away.
But the question I ask them is, “What are the results you've created?” I don't care how hard you hustle, I want results. If you're going to cut my grass, and you use scissors for the whole thing, I'm not going to pay you more than if you used a lawnmower. I just want the grass cut.
I invite you to consider: if you can't get the results you're looking to get in 4 days a week, what's going happen on that magical fifth day? Is it really going to be that much better? Say you own a bakery, and 4 days a week, you’re making disgusting cakes—on the fifth day, are they suddenly going to be tasty? Probably not.
In most situations, people are able to achieve better results in less time, if they are motivated. Technology is helping us so much with productivity, but a lot of those profits are not trickling down to the employees. This is why employees are very often just wasting time during the day, because they have to be there.
I'm reading this book called The Five Hour Work Day at the moment, and I love it so much. One of the points the author, Stephan Aarstol, makes is that productivity in the United States has gone up, but workers’ wages have risen at a much lower rate, so what do the workers do?
The workers are told they have to sit in the office and occupy space for a certain amount of time, but they're already getting their job done because of the new technology. So now they'll occupy space, but they'll just be killing time.
Again, what are they missing out on, and what are you missing out on? What are the results you're looking to achieve in your business? Go in, get that result, and get out of there. There's no point in killing time.
What's the result you're looking to achieve with your family, your kids, your loved ones, your friends? Make time for that. Start planning your life outside of work more than you plan your life inside work.
I hope you find this process helpful, and I hope you really consider about what it is that you're missing out on.
I invite you to pause now, and write down 10 things that you're missing out on, or that you'd be doing if you had extra free time. Start looking at what you're trading for that extra free time, and decide if that's really what you want to do.
If you want more information about how we can help you, there is a tool I'd like to share with you. It's called The 4-Day Work Week Game Plan, and you can find it at 4daygameplan.com. If you found this post helpful, share it with your friends.
As always, I look forward to helping you Make More Money… In Less Time, Doing What You Do Best as you start creating your 4-day work week lifestyle: the lifestyle that allows you to make the most of time with your friends, your family, your loved ones, and yourself.
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