Monday Morning Insights

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    The Five Hour Work Day

    The Five Hour Work Day

    Seth Godin had a challenging post recently called "Cheating the Clock".  His supposition:  it's not so much how long you work; but what you do while you're working.  His suggestion.  Make this a five hour a day work week.

    Here's part of what Seth has to say:

    One way to do indispensable work is to show up more hours than everyone else. Excessive face time and candle-burning effort is sort of rare, and it's possible to leverage it into a kind of success.

    But if you're winning by cheating the clock, you're still cheating.

    The problem with using time as your lever for success is that it doesn't scale very well. 20 hours a day at work is not twice as good as 18, and you certainly can't go much beyond 24...

    What would happen if you were prohibited from working more than five hours a day. What would you do? How would you use those five hours to become indispensable in a different way?

    Seriously.  I would be one of the first to admit to being a workaholic most of the time.  Part of the reason is that I love my work.  Another reason is that I work from my home (which makes it very easy to abuse the time parameters I try to put up to curb my workaholicness).

    But what Seth says rings true with me.  It's not so much how much you work as what you're doing while your working.

    For example, It's now 4:45 in the morning.  I woke up (as I sometimes do) very early (like 3:30ish) and wasn't able to get back to sleep.  (Don't feel bad for me... the two hour nap I had Sunday afternoon came back to bite me).  But what I find when I do get up early and have some time that I'm not distracted by email; the phone; the kids; Facebook; Twitter; and other distractions; I actually can get a whole day's worth of work done before anyone else even gets up.

    I love that feeling.

    The lesson... work smarter; not harder OR longer.  It's a lesson I'm trying to learn.

    Seth's advice for you this week:  try working a five hour a day work week.  Just for a week.  And see what happens.  His theory:  even if you go back to 10 hours a day next week; you will have changed the way you work!

    Give it a try and let me know!



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    1. Artie Davis on Mon, June 14, 2010

      Great Post , I’m always struggling with time management, and looking for new creative ways to see a greater return on time invested.

      Gonna try this TODAY!

    2. Scott Couchenour on Mon, June 14, 2010

      I like this. I’m trying to stay focused on the 20% of tasks that yield 80% of the results I need. This isn’t always possible, but the focus on the 20% plus allowing margin time is proving to be effective. I have a long way to go. Your post helps. Thanks.

    3. pete wilson on Mon, June 14, 2010

      Great post Todd.

    4. ron edmondson on Mon, June 14, 2010

      Yes, working smart is far better than working hard.  Love it.  Thanks Todd.  Honestly though, I just want to see one or the other, but more than that I want to see progress.  I see too many not going anywhere from one week to the next.  Figuring out what works for you seems to be a good key.

    5. Cameyg on Mon, June 14, 2010

      Funny timing. Had numerous conversations with individuals about this sort of thing as of late. One such conversation was had over a late dinner in our home with some dear friends who were staying overnight with us on their way elsewhere..

      He said, “I was working 60 to 70 hours a week at least as most church planters do. It cost me my sons and almost my marriage.”

      If one tries Seth’s advice… they may not only work smarter, but they may prevent burnout & damaging relationships with their spouse and/or child(ren).

      Praying for all on this!

    6. Jenni Catron on Mon, June 14, 2010

      I think there is probably a lot to learn from this concept.  Whenever I have a short day maybe due to travel, big meeting that’s taking most of the day, etc, I manage to tackle a lot of stuff in the couple of hours that I have.  I’m just more focused when the time seems shorter. 

      And since my boss commented “Great post” I wonder if that means I have permission to try it smile

    7. Mark on Mon, June 14, 2010

      Good word, especially considering most of us have an almost unlimited number of good things we could be doing.

    8. Peter Hamm on Mon, June 14, 2010

      I agree…


      I think that some of the “down time” in my work week is very very valuable. Even with only on kid in my house it’s hectic (2 dogs helps with that) and some of my best quiet moments are some of that “wasted” time here at work. We have a room that’s real comfy to just sit and read or pray in right next to my office.

      Still, I want to try this experiment.

    9. Dennis Muse on Mon, June 14, 2010

      Great advice, today in corporate America the rule is more hours worked = more profit, the best employees. Today every job expects 55, 60, 70 hours out of every employee (for no more pay). I came out of the restaurant business where 70, 75 hours a week was the norm, the expected to do your job (that is why I got out of it). We are becoming a nation of workaholic to achieve worldly goods, I think of Isaiah 55:2.

      I like your plan better.

    10. CS on Mon, June 14, 2010

      The modern 40-hour, five-day workweek was established in the first part of the 20th Century after experiments in labor by men in various fields found that it was the optimal rate.  Ford discovered, for instance, that both manual and knowledge workers would put in the same output at 40 hours per week as others at 60 hours per week, mainly because those who were there so long chronically made mistakes.  While temporary gains could be made in short bursts above 40 hours per week, it was at a cost and a person needed the downtime.


    11. Fred on Tue, June 15, 2010

      Believe it or not some of also have “real” jobs and we work our behinds off more than twice 5 hours a day and wish we had more time and energy. smile

    12. Vern Sanders on Wed, June 16, 2010

      I flirt with this idea on a regular basis like a moth to a flame. The difficulty is that if you have multiple roles, as I do, you have to figure out whether each role deserves the 5 hour work day (I’ve tried that), or allocate a day to each role (tried that too…). All fine in theory until you get to a week when they all demand that 5 hour day. FAIL.

    13. Scott Couchenour on Wed, June 16, 2010

      Vern, I ask the following question with all the respect you rightfully deserve. I do not know your circumstances. But… have you considered revisiting the number of roles you fill?

      Again, I’m just asking the question. Not implying you are wrong.

    14. Jan on Fri, June 18, 2010

      I say how do you do this?  Ask a mom!

      We raised five kids (3 still at home) home schooled and both held church staff positions.  We did a lot of juggling.

      But it was the best training ground for getting what we needed to get done in the time we had.

      And those were the days when I was most strategic and fruitful in ministry.

      It’s easy to waste time when you have time to waste.  When you don’t, but are driven to get the job done and accomplish something, you work harder.

    15. Scott Couchenour on Fri, June 18, 2010


      “...And those were the days when I was most strategic and fruitful in ministry. It�s easy to waste time when you have time to waste.� When you don�t, but are driven to get the job done and accomplish something, you work harder…”

      You are right on. With the right amount of load, the critical rises tithe top.

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