These days, it’s rare to find someone who works just 40 hours a week. Many Americans are putting in 50 or even 60 hour weeks. It will come as no surprise to those overworked citizens that working more than 40 hours a week is actually counterproductive. Alternet.org lays out the case for returning to the 40-hour work week.
"Most American workers don’t realize that for most of the 20th century, the broad consensus among American business leaders was that working people more than 40 hours a week was stupid, wasteful, dangerous, and expensive — and the most telling sign of dangerously incompetent management to boot.
What studies showed, over and over, was that industrial workers have eight good, reliable hours a day in them. On average, you get no more widgets out of a 10-hour day than you do out of an eight-hour day. Likewise, the overall output for the work week will be exactly the same at the end of six days as it would be after five days. So paying hourly workers to stick around once they’ve put in their weekly 40 is basically nothing more than a stupid and abusive way to burn up profits.
The potential for catastrophic failure can be every bit as high for knowledge workers as it is for laborers."
If you have a few minutes, read the full article. It’s very interesting. If you don’t have time, I’ll sum it up: People who consistently work 50-60 hour weeks get mentally burned out, are no more productive than if they had worked 40 hours, and are at a far greater risk of making catastrophic mistakes. In other words, they won’t get any more done and they’re more likely to screw up badly.
It is the year 2012. It’s crazy that we even measure a worker’s productivity in terms of hours any more. I could come to work at 7am, play Angry Birds for 12 hours, and leave at 7pm, and everyone would think that I was hard-working because they saw me coming in early and leaving late. But if I leave at 4:30 every day, then I’m branded as lazy, even though I could have accomplished twice as much work as one of my colleagues. That’s why, whenever I speak to a recent college graduate, I tell them to show up 5 minutes early every morning and leave 10 minutes after their boss goes home. That way they’ll appear to be dedicated even though they’re probably surfing ESPN all day. I also tell them never to volunteer for additional work, because the fact that you’re pitching in tells your boss that you’re not busy enough already. And I recommend that all recent graduates leave an extra toothbrush and pressed shirt in their car, so that they can appear fresh and clean even after an all-night bender. You can find these great tips and many more in my new book, “How to Succeed in Business With Almost No Effort Whatsoever,” available on Amazon and bookstores everywhere.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @thefaketomz
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