There have been a number of data points recently that have caught me off guard. Apparently, there are people in this world who actually work 40 hours a week or less and complain why they can’t get ahead! I understand if you are retired, a student, handicapped, or under-employed how you might not work 40 hours a week. But, I’ve only heard about places like France where people work less than 40 hours a week and start going on strike if they have to work more!
Working 40 hours a week or less is fantastic if you are happy with your income and career, not bored out of your mind, and can get away with it. Unfortunately, I am neither skilled enough to do what I want with that little amount of time, nor do I have the courage to work so little for what I am being compensated for. I think I would probably get fired if I worked that little. Besides, I have about 80 hours of work energy in me a week now. Might as well utilize it before it fades. How about you?
Data point #1: Two women on the bus were chatting next to me and explaining what a long day at work they had. It was 6:30pm and one woman said, “Thank goodness the day is over! I got in an hour early at 8:30am and am absolutely exhausted!” She’s exhausted for being in the office for 10 hours with an hour long lunch break? Sign me up!
Data point #2: For some reason, my article “How Much Do The Top Income Earners Make By Percentage?” continues to get random commenters (1,000+ now) who turn the simple question into a political and social debate about why the rich should be paying more taxes, and the lower 50% should be paying even less taxes. One commenter says I’m out of touch with reality when I explain that anybody who really wants to be in the Top 50% of income earners ($33,000) can do so if they wanted to. All you have to do is work 63 hours a week at $10 to make $33,000 a year! He says that’s ridiculous as he can’t make that working 40 hours a week (no kidding).
Data point #3: My friend in HR said her firm is implementing overtime compensation for certain level of workers who work more than 40 hours a week. I asked her why her firm was rewarding their workers for working hours they’re supposed to anyway? That’s like rewarding the cable guy who comes within the allotted window! She giggled and shrugged. If I am the CEO, and you command overtime compensation for working more than 40 hours a week, I will do my best to refer you to my competitor to blow them up.
Data point #4: A blogger who moved to a foreign country to experience location independence, swims for hours a day, “works” about 30 hours a week and says he’s burned out. He’s upset that he’s not making more than $1,000-$2,000 a month with his infoproducts and online job opportunities. He’s so burned out that he took a week off to re-charge his batteries. In other words, he took a vacation from his vacation. You’d think as a full-time blogger working 3-5 hours a day that you’d probably post every day and never burn out. But, he only posts 2 to 3X a week and writes that he’s frustrated nobody has given him a book deal. Come on now. $1,000-$2,000 ain’t too shabby for kicking back!
Data point #5: I was meeting a potential business partner for coffee downstairs at the consulting gig I’m working at. There were four 20-something year olds just lounging in these recliners, surfing the web, and doing absolutely nothing but goof off for the entire 1.25 hours I was there. One guy starts saying how his firm hired someone senior than him to do his job, and how angry he was for not being recognized more. Then this other guy who was listening to music off his laptop chimes in that he’s been looking for a programming job for months. This is San Francisco, where if you have programming skills, you are hired for $100,000 at 25 years old. Watching YouTube videos, surfing the web, and playing games on your laptop at a coffee shop during the middle of the day does not get you anywhere. Taking 1.25 hour coffee breaks in the afternoon if you are working doesn’t not help you get promoted either.
DO PEOPLE REALLY ONLY WORK 40 HOURS A WEEK OR LESS?
Are there really people out there who only work 40 hours or less a week and complain about why they can’t get ahead or make enough money? That’s like slacking off in school and expecting Google to hire you for big bucks. Ain’t gonna happen. I don’t think I’ve ever worked less than 40 hours a week when healthy. Day job work is around 55-60 hours a week and online work is another 20 hours of fun work a week for a total of 75-80 hours. Add on 35-42 hours a week for sleep, that still leaves 50 hours a week to spend with family, friends, and extracurricular activities. It’s not like the 75-80 hours a week spent on work is all just work either. It’s fun to interact online, go play golf with clients, get some lunch and earn some income in the process.
Perhaps society has manipulated people into believing that 40 hours a week is a normal time to spend on the job or on an endeavor. There are two ways to get ahead: 1) Work harder and smarter than everybody else and 2) Make everybody else work less and dumber. If you ask any super successful person how many hours a week they work I can guarantee you that it’s way more than 40 hours a week.
Do you think President Obama works only 40 hours a week? Hell no! He regularly works 60-70 hours a week and is on call 24-7. Do you think Mark Zuckerberg works 40 hours a week? He worked around the clock to build Facebook to what it is today. Do you think doctors don’t study night and day for their MCATs to then go on single digit work hour rounds? The answer is “no”, and you know that.
40 HOURS A WEEK IS A WALK IN THE PARK, SO JUST BE HAPPY
If you can work 40 hours a week and be satisfied with what you have, more power to you. I definitely plan to work less than 40 hours a week during retirement. However, if you are complaining about life and why you don’t have enough money and only work 40 hours a week, you need to get your head checked. We live in a very competitive society and anybody who wants to be better than average can’t work 40 hours and expect to be more than they’re not.
Update 10/16/2013: I retired because I no longer want to work more than 40 hours a week! Instead, I’m working 15-20 hours a week on building passive income so I don’t have to work anymore.
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