Our work can be an activity that gives us not just an income and something to do during the day, but it can also give us a sense of purpose.
I love the work I do. In fact, all the jobs I've had have given me something to feel good about. There's a lot that can be taken from the work you do. Not in the sense of "stealing back what's been taken from you" by pilfering a box of pens every so often, but by appreciating what you learn from the job and the connections you make with the people you work with.
It's also okay to dislike the work you do. Not all jobs are great. You might wonder how your boss ever got their job, why you have to bring your work home with you, or why the heck that damn Jim keeps stealing a bite out of your lunch. Not the whole lunch. No, just one weird bite out of the leftover five cheese lasagna you brought with you.
...What a jerk-face.
Regardless of how you feel about your work, doing it in the most efficient and healthy way possible is important. Nobody likes heading into work when your body's tank is running on fumes, and yet we do it anyway. Clearly, there's got to be a better way.
There's a saying about insanity that's waaay too often quoted:
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results each time.
It does work here, though. Burning yourself out with your work, but expecting it to get better without changing anything is pretty crazy. Alternatively, if you love long days and thrive off a heavy workload, then you do you.
The 4 day work week
While everyone is different and we should all be working on doing what feels best for us, what experts have been finding is a beneficial connection between working less and feeling better. To that end, the 4 day work week has been gaining a lot of steam these days.
In the countries and businesses that have been testing it out, they've seen that workers are feeling happier, healthier, and are less discouraged about the work they do. In fact, workers at Microsoft Japan showed a crazy 40% productivity boost when they worked fours days a week, enjoyed a longer three day weekend, and were still paid the equivalent of working for five days.
A person will be happier and work better if they have more time off without losing money? Such a novel concept, right?
But it seems to be, actually. What I would consider the distinctly American system of working yourself to the bone five or more days a week to scrape by is considered the norm around the world. It's been that way for a long time. Even worse, time off on the weekends was hardly a thing before the 20th century when the 5 day work week gained traction.
What we're starting to finally do something about is the impact that lack of time away from our jobs has on our health. When we don't want to devote so much of our time to a job we're unhappy with, being forced to give up that time has adverse effects on us. It weighs us down. We stop performing as well as we could, which won't benefit the work we do.
That's why the 4 day work week has been talked about in more serious tones. No longer is it just wishful thinking you have while you're inching through traffic on your way home. It's becoming more of a real thing because of the real good it can bring to the people lucky enough to enjoy that schedule.
If a 4 day work week will help people feel better, then I welcome it.
Working a lot
Things change a little bit when you derive some real purpose and pleasure from your work. When your job doesn't feel like it's sucking your soul from your body, you stop trying to avoid it. Suddenly, working long hours doesn't feel like it's as much of a burden anymore. You start looking forward to what you're doing now and what you've got coming up.
Working a lot stops feeling so bad.
If this is the case for you, then heck yeah! I'm going to come in for a heck of a high five if I ever meet you.
Working a lot, for those that desire it, can bring some real goodness to your life. You'll feel like you're accomplishing so much during the day. There's a special sort of satisfaction you can feel when you burn the midnight oil. When I was in film school, I would regularly work on my projects until at least midnight. It didn't feel like a burden. It felt like I was doing what I needed to do to make my films as good as they could be.
While I may not work the same amount of hours now, I don't look back on those days and wonder what in the world I'd been thinking. I look back and see someone who was passionate about what he was doing. I see someone who thrived off of long hours.
And if working long hours is your thing, then that's okay.
But really, don't let it affect your health or the time you could be spending with your loved ones. There's nothing you'll regret more when you're older than putting your work before the more important things in your life.
Working a little
If the 4 day work week sounds so much like your jam that you want to spread it on some toast, then that's perfectly okay too. There are a lot of high-powered people out there who may make you feel like you're not succeeding in life if you limit your working time. Those people are punks.
Working fewer hours comes with a trade-off, though. Just because you're working less doesn't mean you can slack off. Your output while working less needs to be at least as good as it could be when working more.
Working fewer hours is not an excuse to be lazy.
If you've got what it takes to keep your work output jammed up as high as you can make it, then working fewer hours could be a great way to feel better about your life. You'll not only feel like you're kicking some major butt at your job, but you'll also be able to spend some extra time on yourself.
That could be by sleeping in on Fridays, taking a longer weekend vacation, or spending more time with your kids. Whatever it is, spend that extra time you're getting on the things in your life that you truly value.
Not only will you feel happier with your work, you'll feel more content with your entire life.
I get that encouraging everyone to ditch work a day earlier than what’s considered normal can seem like a pipe dream. If your workplace would never even consider allowing its employees the pleasure of taking an extra day off work while still getting paid the same, then you're a bit stuck.
It takes a lot to change societal norms. That's not something that can just happen overnight. Workplaces around the world aren't going to all switch over to a 4 day work week tomorrow. That might actually have some very serious and dangerous consequences.
Here's what I want your takeaway to be from this: value yourself and fight for what you know will make you feel better.
If you like working a lot, then work a lot. If you want to work less (but can still work hard), then look for a job that'll allow you to do that. We're all different. The important thing to know is it's all okay.
Don't ever feel like you're doing a bad job, as long as you're working hard.
Do good work, cats.