There’s some debate about who actually created the 5 hour work day but most people (Forbes, Money etc) cite Lasse Rheingans – CEO of Rheingans Digital Enabler as one of the first companies to start a 5 hour work day.
Most of the 5 hour work day stories seem to have similar outcomes. Happier staff and increased productivity without a reduction in holiday or staff benefits, everyone wins. Amazing, so why doesn’t it work for everyone and why do we hear so many stories of people trying to implement it failing?
It’s all about focus
Working a 5 hour day requires real discipline, removing all the extraneous things we do on an average workday. Think about it:
- Coffee, tea (whatever we don’t judge)
- Snacks, see above
- Chatting with colleagues
- Irrelevant emails, phone calls texts
- Day dreaming
- MEETINGS, or most importantly pointless meetings
Losing all these things from our workday takes time, effort and discipline and it’s a struggle for most of us. Meetings (well they had to be didn’t they) are probably the biggest culprit, we know they’re a problem. In most cases it hovers between 35% and 50% of our work week spent in meetings, that’s a whopping amount of time! Image what life would be like with better meetings?
Let’s put that into context if you work a 45 hour week that’s 22.5 hours in meetings. Let’s be optimistic and say 50% of that meeting time is wasted, that’s about 11 hours a week. So there’s 2 hours a day saved!!
The rest just requires focus. I’ve been trying this for myself I recently decided to try an approach that focused 100% on tasks. I split this into 2-3 chunks each day of similar tasks and shut off every distraction and non-related activity. It works really well. I’ve found myself rattling through my tasks, making very few errors. More importantly though it’s de-cluttered my brain. My attention is spent working on the tasks at hand, thinking time is built in but it’s not off topic. I’d love to also say I’ve cut down pointless meetings, but we don’t really have those given what we do. I’m drinking less coffee and having breaks when I need them, win.
Taking the first step
Try a few things yourself. Turn your phone off for periods during the day, if you plan this well it will coincide with the times when you’re on your phone for non-work stuff. Try not to use chat during certain times, similar to the phone it’s a distraction. Turn your email off and only open it at set times during the day to check and reply.
It all sounds easy but it’s these things we use to break up the day and grab a mental rest, try it for yourself and see how you get on. Let us know we’d love to hear the outcome?
The biggy of course is meetings, try saying no to meetings! Ask yourself the question will I add value? If the answer is no then tell the organiser, they’ll likely thank you for it. When you organise meetings yourself, be disciplined, set an agenda, ask attendees if they feel they can contribute and be disciplined with the follow up.
If you can get close to the calculations we highlighted above you could be saving a whole day in time, that’s massive. The upside is obvious, less stress, more time with family, more time spent doing the things you want to do and more productivity for your company.