Is the 40 Hour Work Week Passé?

May 28th, 2012

Sunset over Cabo San Lucas


I think it’s high time to end the 40 hour work week. Not because I’m lazy and don’t want to drag my butt off the couch but because the traditional 40 hour work week has become anything but 40 hours. Too many people are working 50-60 hours so they can keep up appearances that they are serious hard workers and they don’t want to risk losing their jobs. Couldn’t most of us get our jobs done in 30-32 hours and maybe even less?

It’s one thing if you work for yourself and call the shots on your schedule but for the average person who is at the beck and call of an employer, the 40+ hour work week is seriously cutting into time that could be spent enjoying life and contributing more to our communities. Does it make one a slacker to not want to work so much? Of course not! After a certain amount of time we aren’t that productive anyway. I’m all for working hard but how productive can we really be after a certain amount of time? Shouldn’t efficiency be the goal and not how many hours we can put in at the office?

A few months ago I resigned from a job that was requiring me to work seven days a week. I loved the cause but my health was beginning to suffer not to mention my peace of mind. As I get older, good health is at the top of my asset priority list even if I have to do with a little less money.

I started searching for full time jobs right away but was turned off by the insane hours and job duties that many employers were demanding for very little money. I figured I would be so exhausted at most of these jobs that I would end up spending money on take-out, a cleaning person, and hiring someone to  do other errands that I wouldn’t  have time for. Did I want to be working at a job I could care less about so I could pay someone to do these things? Hey, cleaning and marketing is not my idea of a party but I’ll take doing these things any day over being stuck in a cubicle.

I have no easy answers for how to get out of the rut of the 40 hour work week. It’s going to take a huge cultural shift to end the insanity but the time is ripe to get the conversation going. I don’t buy that we all like working our lives away at the expense of our heath, personal lives, and stress levels.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could list 10 bullet points below for getting out of the 40 hour work week rut but unfortunately I can’t. The problem is a complex one and situations vary from individual to individual. I think those of us who are on the path of living simply and minimally have a head start because we are learning to live with less and we value quality over quantity.

Some of us are getting by with one car per household or even no car. We know that we don’t have to buy everything that is marketed to us and that time is a valuable asset. Many of us are working part time or having one spouse work outside of the home and the other one work in the home. We are getting creative and refusing to give in to the status quo.

I personally am on a mission to work less and enjoy life more. It’s an ambitious goal in a culture that values the almighty dollar at the expense of everything else. But I’m determined! We’ll see how it goes.


(If you’d like to read more about living simply and changing the way you think about wealth please consider reading my book which is available in paperback or Kindle: REDEFINING THE MEANING OF WEALTH: DISCOVERING PROSPERITY AND FORTUNE IN THE UNEMPLOYMENT LINE.

4 Responses to “Is the 40 Hour Work Week Passé?”

  1. Time can be more valuable than money. We choose to live pn one *modest* income, so that we can have much more time together–and this includes weekends all year and an entire summer of sailing! W e don’t have anything new or stylish, but we have a life that many, many people envy. And having a hobby completely independent of my jpb has made me much stronger in my field.

  2. Paige says:

    I so agree Bethany. Time is much more valuable than money.

  3. Sheri says:

    Great post! I can really relate. In my previous job, I had to cover several positions that were eliminated, but when business picked up, they refused to hire staff to help me. When I finally got fed up & threatened to quit, I was eliminated without severance. Two weeks later, I went to the doctor. He looked at my blood work and said “What has changed? Keep on doing it!”. I told him I’d lost my job and he said, “You might really want o think about that!”

    Now I have a great job and it even pays about 10 percent more and is closer to home. My hours are slightly flexible & I can telecommute occassionally. Huge difference. I no longer have Type 2 diabetes & have lost 16 pounds. My blood pressure is now on the low end. I should have left the old job much sooner! Life is too short.

  4. Paige says:

    what a great story Sheri. good for you for standing up to your previous employer and trusting that something better was out there. it proves that there are good jobs out there that offer some type of balance.

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