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How Many Hours in a Week Should I Work for a Good Work-Life Balance?

Work hours vary based on factors like job type, lifestyle and goals. Aim for productivity and a sustainable pace that suits your needs and maximizes efficiency.

By 

Synkdup Editorial Team   

|  30 January 2024

How Many Hours Should You Really Work

In the hustle culture prevalent today, it can be tricky to decide how much time to devote to work and how much time to keep reserved for your professional life. Working all the time can lead to FOMO about life, and going easy on work to have more time for your personal life can make you anxious about getting left behind in the race for upward financial mobility.

Also, today there is widespread awareness about things like work-life balance and burnout, and it is hard not to wonder how many hours in a week I should work.

So, in this article, we are going to discuss the various aspects of working hours that should help you make an informed decision about taking up a hands-on training program.

What Exactly is Work-life Balance

It might sound like just another cliched phrase but, work-life balance is actually an essential element of a healthy lifestyle.

Work-life balance is like trying to keep a delicate scale in perfect equilibrium. On one side, you have your work responsibilities – the job that pays the bills and challenges you. On the other side, you have your life outside of work – your family, friends, hobbies, and personal well-being.

The goal is to find that sweet spot where you're not tipping too far in either direction. It's about ensuring that your job doesn't consume your entire life, leaving you stressed and exhausted, nor neglecting your career while you focus solely on personal pursuits.

In simple terms, work-life balance is about living a fulfilling life where you're not overwhelmed by work, but you're also not missing out on the joys of your personal world. It's finding time for both your professional growth and your personal happiness, and ensuring they complement each other rather than clash.

Understanding the 40 Hours Work Week

Okay, so you know that typical 9-to-5 gig many of us have? Well, it's often tied to something called the "40-hour workweek." Let's take a trip back in time.

Back in the day, like the early 1900s, people were putting in crazy hours – 10, 12, sometimes even 16 hours a day, six days a week! No wonder they were feeling like overworked zombies.

Then, a bunch of folks got together and said, "Hey, this isn't sustainable!" That's when the concept of a 40-hour workweek started to gain steam. In 1938, the U.S. government even passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which made 40 hours a week the standard for most jobs.

So why 40 hours? Well, it was kind of a balance between giving people enough time to earn a living and still have a life outside of work. You could put in a solid workday, have evenings and weekends for family, hobbies, and well, life!

Benefits and Drawbacks of a Traditional 40-Hour Work Schedule

Now, let's talk about the pros and cons of the 40-hour workweek.

On the plus side, it's stable and predictable. You know when you're working, and you know when you're off. It's like having a routine you can count on. Plus, it's been the norm for so long that it's what many workplaces are built around.

But hey, it's not all rainbows and sunshine. The 40-hour grind might not be a one-size-fits-all deal. Some folks thrive in it, but others might feel like they're just going through the motions. And let's not forget the commute! Spending hours getting to and from work isn't exactly everyone's idea of a good time.

Also, life happens outside of work, right? Sometimes, we need flexibility to handle family stuff, personal projects, or just to recharge. That's where the 40-hour workweek might start feeling a bit restrictive.

Alternate Work Schedules: Beyond the 9 to 5

The Rise of Flexible Hours

Flexible hours mean you're the captain of your own ship. You set your start and end times (within reason). If you're not a morning person, no worries! It's about the work you get done, not when you punch in.

Remote Work: Redefining Work Norms

Remote work is like the rebel of the work world. You break free from the office and work from your comfort zone. It offers flexibility in hours and location. Just be sure to set clear boundaries between work and home life, or your living room might become a 24/7 office.

Factors Influencing Your Work Hours

Alright, now let's dive into what determines the perfect work hours for your desired work-life balance. There are a few key things to think about that'll help you find that sweet spot that fits your life and goals.

A. Your Lifestyle

First things first—your lifestyle. We're talking about your day-to-day, including family time, hobbies you love, and hanging out with friends. You need a schedule that doesn't make your life all about work. It's about finding that balance that keeps you happy both at work and at home.

B. What's the Job and What's the Norm?

The type of work you're doing and what's typical in your industry matter. Some gigs may ask for those extra hours due to deadlines or specific project needs. Understanding what's the norm in your field helps you figure out what's expected and what's manageable for you.

C. Keep an Eye on Your Health and Well-being

Don't forget about your health, both mental and physical. Pushing yourself too hard can lead to burnout, and we definitely don't want that. Listen to your body and mind, and set your work hours so you have time to take care of yourself.

D. Money Talks

Money matters too, right? You've got bills to pay and goals to reach. So, finding a balance between making enough and not overloading yourself is key. Work out how many hours you need to put in to meet your financial goals while still having time for yourself.

Balancing these factors helps you craft a work schedule that fits you just right during your externship or internship. It's all about making those hours work for you, both professionally and personally!

Part-Time vs. Full-Time Employment: Deciding Your Work Commitment

Full-Time Employment: The Standard Approach

Full-time is the classic 9 to 5 gig. You commit to around 40 hours a week. It's like adopting a full-grown plant—you need to water it regularly (work) for it to thrive. You get stability, benefits, and a sense of routine.

Part-Time Employment: Flexibility at the Core

Part-time is like having a succulent. It needs less water (time), but it still grows. You work fewer hours, usually less than 35 a week. This leaves you with more freedom for personal pursuits or another job. Benefits are often on the lighter side, but the flexibility is the real perk.

Maximizing Productivity: Striking the Right Work Hour Balance

Finding the optimal work hours isn't just about fitting into a standard mold. It's about understanding how to maximize your productivity within those hours. Here's a closer look at how you can achieve that balance and make the most out of your time at work:

A. Quality Over Quantity: Focus on Output

Shift your mindset from merely logging hours to emphasizing the value of your work. Aim for high-quality, efficient work during your designated hours rather than just clocking in more time.

B. Find Your Prime Time

Discover the times of the day when you're most productive and focused. Structure your work hours to align with these peak periods to achieve optimal efficiency.

C. Take Strategic Breaks

Incorporate short, strategic breaks into your work routine. Stepping away, even briefly, can rejuvenate your mind and improve overall productivity when you return to your tasks.

D. Eliminate Distractions

Pinpoint distractions that hinder your workflow and take proactive steps to minimize them. Creating a distraction-free zone, both physically and digitally, can significantly enhance your concentration and output.

E. Goal-Driven Planning

Set clear goals and deadlines for your work tasks. Break down your goals into achievable milestones and allocate time slots to accomplish them. This structured approach boosts productivity by keeping you focused and motivated.

F. Regular Skill Enhancement

Invest time in improving and honing your skills relevant to your job. Continuous learning not only enhances your expertise but also amplifies your efficiency and productivity at work.

G. Collaborate and Delegate Smartly

Collaboration and delegation can lighten your workload and lead to a more efficient use of your time. Delegate tasks that others can handle effectively, allowing you to concentrate on tasks that require your expertise.

By focusing on productivity, you can strike a balance in your work hours that aligns with your personal and professional goals. It's about optimizing your time to achieve the best possible results and maintain a healthy work-life equilibrium.

Mastering Time Management: Making Every Day Count

Alright, let's get real about time—it's the one thing you can't buy more of. Managing it wisely is like investing in your own success portfolio.

Prioritizing Your Time

Imagine you have a plate, and it's your day's activities. Some are the main course, and others are just garnish. Focus on the main course—the crucial tasks. Prioritize based on urgency and importance. Don't forget to leave room for dessert, aka leisure time!

The Magic of Daily Planning

Ever tried herding cats? That's what a day without a plan can feel like. Planning your day sets the pace. Allocate specific times for work, breaks, personal tasks, and even downtime. It's like having a GPS for your day.

Embrace Technology Wisely

Technology can be a beast or a buddy. Choose buddy! Use apps to organize your day. Calendar apps for scheduling, reminder apps for important tasks, and project management tools to keep your tasks in line. Let tech do the heavy lifting.

Ideal Work Hours: Striking the Right Balance Per Month and Per Year

Per Month: Finding the Sweet Spot

Let's break it down like a math problem, but way more practical. In a month, you've got around 20 to 23 workdays. A full-time job usually takes up 8 hours a day. Do the math, and voilà! Aim for the balance—work enough to pay the bills, but leave room for a life.

Per Year: Making the Most of 365 Days

365 days, 1,960 working hours. But hold your horses, you've got holidays, weekends, and vacation days. Realistically, it's like 1,500 hours of focused work a year. Quality matters more than quantity. Work hard during those hours, then take a breather.

So, How Many Hours In a Week Should I Work

If it is an enriching job, how many hours in a week should I work, should be simply answered with ‘as many hours as you can’. There’s nothing like having work you love and doing it! When you like your job, you are automatically able to put in more hours. However, if you are not particularly passionate about your work, you’d probably be better advised to take it as just another part of your life and allocate it time as per your preferences and needs.

When asked about how much one should work, the famous Canadian psychologist Dr Jordan Peterson says on the Joe Rogan Podcast ‘’...in your twenties, you should push yourself beyond your limits of tolerance to find out where it (actually) is. How much can you work? How disciplined can you become? Like, can you work twelve hours a day? Can you work 8 hours a day? Can you work 3 hours a day? Like flat out, where is your limit? And how much work you can do and how much socialization? You should find out, push yourself past, and then – back off to that point where it’s optimally sustainable.’’

This is in sharp contrast to a quote from the German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, which says ‘’Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar.”

How Much Work is Too Much?

We all know working hard is important, but can you have too much of a good thing? We all want to give our best, but can you overdo it? Can you OD on productivity?

The Breaking Point: Burnout

Ever felt like work is draining you? That's a classic sign of burnout, and studies back this up. Research published in the Psychology, Health & Medicine journal has shown a clear link between longer working hours and burnout. Sometimes, your body is just saying, "Hey, slow down!"

Health Takes a Hit

The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies occupational burnout as a health issue in their International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). It's not just a buzzword; it's a legit health concern.

The 4-Day Work Week Experiment

Let's talk about a game-changer: the 4-day work week. A Microsoft study in Japan revealed that reducing the workweek to four days led to a 40% increase in productivity. Less time, more impact—now, that's food for thought.

The Sweet Spot: 25-30 Hours a Week

Now, let's flip the script. Ever heard of the 4-day workweek? Yeah, it's not just wishful thinking. Studies, like the one by Microsoft in Japan, have shown that reducing the workweek to four days can lead to a 40% boost in productivity! That's right, less can sometimes be more.

Finding Your Balance

In the end, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. It's about finding your sweet spot—the amount of work that keeps you productive, engaged and still enjoying life. So, how much work is too much? Well, it's about finding that balance. Work smart, take breaks, and remember, your well-being should never be sacrificed for the grind.

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