We Americans love to succeed, achieve, and innovate. And we’re often willing to put in any hours necessary to make these things happen.
Famous entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Bill Gates claim to have worked 100+ hours per week for decades.
But Americans do suffer the consequences for working 50, 60, 80, or even 100 hours per week.
There’s much reason to believe those numbers get inflated because it does a lot to boost ego.
Depending on how much you overwork, it can be quite disastrous to your health. And even fatal.
Ignoring your health and being too busy plays a large role in the number of deaths due to heart attack.
And short of that, you can experience poor circulation, increased weight, high cholesterol, lack of energy, poor sleep, bad concentration, nervous conditions, depression, anger, and irritability.
In other words, you can have quite an unpleasant life!
1. The Truth about Productivity Isn’t What You Think
Many businesses think that the more you work, the more you get done.
And the research says,”Eh. Not so much.”
According to research by John Pencavel at Stanford University, employee output actually falls sharply at 50 hours per week. It falls even further at 55 hours per week.
And at 70 hours per week?
Those extra 15 hours actually result in you getting nothing additional done at all.
They equate to time spent at work. And that’s it.
2. What To Aim For
According to Laura Vanderkam, author of Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, those who feel like they have the most time available work about 38 hours per week, or 7.6 hours per day.
Those who worked just a little bit longer, one hour per day, felt like they had the least amount of time available.
And do you know what this leads to?
You actually get more done when you spend less time doing it. That’s because you’re forced to focus only on what actually counts, and only that which you can do.
The other stuff can be cut out entirely or handed off to someone else.
So interestingly, working less can actually lead to you getting more done!
3. How Ford Created the Five-Day Work Week
Remember hearing those stories about kids working 16-hour days, 7 days per week during the Industrial Revolution?
Until Ford came around, that type of thinking dominated auto manufacturing too.
But Ford actually gave us the entire concept of the 5-day, 40-hour work week.
And they didn’t just pull it out of nowhere.
They tested all kinds of different approaches to work. And they found repeatedly that worker productivity and happiness optimized at right around 40 hours per week.
Henry Ford wasn’t totally selfless in creating the 40-hour work week.
He wanted to figure out where workers would consume the most material goods.
And he found out they needed two recreational days per week, and about a 40-hour work week, to optimize their consumption.
But, this approach (combined with a daily salary of $5, which was twice the national average at the time) also had the natural byproducts of fiercely loyal, highly motivated, and intensely productive workers.
Office Workers May Have Less Productive Work in Them
It hasn’t been researched to a conclusive point yet.
But, some studies suggest office workers may not be able to sustain as many productive hours as manual laborers.
In fact, office workers may be the most productive at 30 – 35 hours per week!
So how many hours should you work per week?
Probably less than you work now.
And you now have some great evidence to drive your decision-making going forward.