How Much Time Should You Spend at Work?



It’s 6 o’clock in the evening and you’re still at work. You want to go home but somehow there is still too much that needs to get done. How did this happen? You do your best to be as efficient as possible but somehow at the end of the day there is always something that you feel was left incomplete. The truth is, there will always be work that needs to be done. A work day is never truly over but it must have a clearly defined end. Don’t forget, work will always be there waiting for you tomorrow morning.

Death to the 8-hour work day 

Long gone are the 8-hour work days. Many companies nowadays have adopted alternative work schedules such as the 9/80 and 19/30. Personally, I do not believe these work schedules do much to improve work-life balance. Flexible schedules seem to inadvertently lead to spending more time than is necessary at work. Throughout my career I have worked various work schedules and I have found that a rotational schedule gave me the best work-life balance. During that time, I would work 14 days and be off for 14 days. This allowed me to travel extensively, work on projects and focus on personal development. Today I work a more traditional work schedule in a typical office environment. There are a lot of challenges that come with this type of arrangement, but it is manageable if you set clear boundaries with yourself and your colleagues.

First one in and last one out 

Conventional wisdom will have you believe that productivity is a function of time. This is true to a point, but an important caveat is productivity is also a function of quality. The adage more is not better carries a lot of truth. Quality time management is invaluable to success in whatever endeavor you pursue. Just because someone physically spends more time at work does not mean they are accomplishing more than someone who spends less time at work. Quality time management can make all the difference in how quickly and efficiently you can complete the critical tasks that bring the most value to your company.

Work to live, don’t live to work

Tragedy is working at a job you hate for a lifetime, constantly looking ahead to retirement. I am not foolish, I understand everyone has responsibilities. Therefore work-life balance must be a priority. If you make the decision to work a job you’re less than passionate about, than you must set clear boundaries with yourself and hold yourself accountable. Decide what is important and schedule the rest around it. It’s not easy, and you may never get that corner office if you do, but at the end of it all who wants to be stuck in an office all day anyway? No matter how nice it is.

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