Two 60s

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(Where did the 40-hour work week come from? See below.)

I once tried to deliberately work two 60-hour work weeks back-to-back – a kind of Thoreau “went to the woods… to live deliberately” thing. That, and I figured I easily owed it to those who got us through tough times before.

Fortunately, I love my work.

I’m pretty sure I’d done it before (especially in the early days of Just Sell back in 1998 – 2000). But here’s the twist… I did it with a clock – a sort of speed chess clock where I started it only when I did activities that contributed directly to my job (and stopped it for those “How was your weekend?” moments, bathroom visits, calls from The Spaniard (my wife), and personal web time.

60 hours of work. Two weeks straight. (Again… fortunately I love most of what I do.)

Five things happened right out of the gate on Day 1…

  1. One colleague excitedly asked me what they could expect from me with the additional man week of time added to the two (20 hours x 2 weeks = 40).
  2. It took me about 10 hours at the office to get the first 8 hours of real work (remember… no personal, web, bathroom, lunch, commuting time included).
  3. I quickly realized I’d need 6 days out of the week to hit 60 hours (it couldn’t be seven – even as a 212er, I get the “all work and no play” thing – that link: daytime only – much too scary without the sun – squeamish stay clear).
  4. I gave much more deliberate attention to my time (small talk was out).
  5. I realized how lucky I was to have it be a choice to do it.

So here’s what happened after two weeks… I failed.

Facts…

  • Worked 106.6 hours (6400 minutes), 13.4 hours short of the target.
  • 53.8 hours worked in the first week, 52.8 in the second week.
  • Worked every day to hit the 106 total hours but Saturdays and Sundays were roughly half days (against my original rule of not working at least one day each week).
  • Got more done but would have a difficult time proving it given the nature of my work.

Thoughts…

  • I love my work and as a result tend to be addicted to it. Even so, after about 8.5 real hours of work (using the speed chess clock method), I found I was ready to break.
  • I’m not sure if I experienced diminishing returns or not. I don’t feel like I did but on the days when I went over 9, I’m guessing there was some of that.
  • I don’t think my family or marriage suffered but that might be one of those things you only learn about a several years later (“And that work experiment? What the hell was that? I’m out of here.” Not likely from The Spaniard. “And during that wicked recession in 2009 my dad would work more, trying “to create value in the world” he would say (roll eyes)… to keep things moving. Freakin’ Cat’s in the Cradle, man. That’s how I ended up like this, you know.”)
  • I’m guessing to be effective, the ideal real working hours number is going to be different for everyone. I’m confident it’s over 40 if we really want to do something wonderful but I imagine if you don’t like your work, that’s probably too much (but so is 20 probably).
  • I think we need to make sure we understand we have an obligation to each other. The goal isn’t to work less. It’s to contribute to the world and bring our particular value to the table. If we focus on that, my guess is we’ll find ourselves in a much better place.

How can we show care without work?

(work (‘weurk): noun: an activity in which one exerts strengths or faculties to do or perform something)

(Did you hear about Joe?)

Now go sell something.~>

__________

40 hours

The 40-hour work week was established in 1938 as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (starting as a cap of 44 hours until it locked in at 40 hours in what appears to be 2 years later). It was a factory worker and child labor protection issue rather than a scientific-study-end-all-be-all marker for optimal productivity.

Be sure you’re focusing on how much you can give with your time rather than how little of your time you can give. It’s a better bet for creating value (helping others), success, and ultimately, more fun.

__________

Copyright © 2010 by Give More Media Inc. This was written by Sam Parker. If you’d like to tell people about it somewhere (e.g., blog, newsletter, Facebook, social media), please reference Sam Parker of JustSell.com as the author and link directly to the article. Excerpts are great but please don’t publish the article in its entirety without advanced written permission (email Sam using the address at the bottom of this page).


COMMENTS


  1. Sales Evolution » Blog Archive » Two 60’s says:

    [...] By Sam Parker of JustSell.com. [...]

    27 February 2012



  2. Sam Parker says:

    I believe it’s about both, Worker.

    What if we were more concerned with contribution than anything else? Imagine if we gave a little more quality for little more quantity (time) than is required of us. How many more people could each of us help every day if we lost ourselves in service?

    It makes me think about the starfish parable… “It makes a difference to this one.”

    Starfish parable bottom line… Thousands of starfish beached. Kid is throwing them back in the water one by one. Older guy walks up and asks what he’s doing. Kid says he’s saving the starfish. Older guy points out the kid can’t possibly make a difference with so many starfish being beached. Kid says, “It makes a difference to this one.” It’s unclear who came up with the idea.

    11 June 2010



  3. Worker says:

    Not about the quantity of hours, but about the quality of work, and what you do with the hours you have: What if people had only 5 hours of work to do the same amount of work they do in 8 hours. I bet they would get it done still. http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/06/cheating-the-clock.html

    10 June 2010



  4. Sam Parker says:

    I think we need to revise the “work to live not live to work” sentiment. It sets a tone that misses the service piece of life.

    I think we need to work placing our focus on contribution.

    We need to contribute our verse to the world, hoping we get the opportunity to make it a better place for others and ourselves while we’re here and then for those who come after us. Along the way, hopefully that effort will help us earn enough to enjoy some wonderful life experiences and give to those who are less fortunate.

    It doesn’t have the rhythmn of the “work to live” line but it keeps me revved up.

    27 January 2010



  5. Mark Rothrock says:

    This article reminds me of a poster I saw once: It showed a man up to his butt in water surrounded by alligators! The caption read “Sometimes when you are up to your Ass in Alligators it is hard to remember your objective was to drain the Swamp!
    I couldn’t agree more with the comments from Roger Braswell. During my Corporate years at a Large Yellow Box photographic Company in Upstate NY, we would go through many rounds of “down sizing” and cost cutting only to find that the “lucky” ones who still had a job were now going to have to work harder to make up for the workers being laid off. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the many years I spent at that company and the lessons it taught me. However, let us not forget a simple truth.
    I work so I can live, I do not Live so I can work!
    Thank you for a great website! The information you provide daily is an inspriration to us all! Keep up the Good Work!

    25 January 2010



  6. Chris says:

    I once read in a book for partners of alcholics: “You’ll suffer for a day, a week, a month or even a year what you would never suffer for a lifetime”. It has always stuck with me.

    If there is a purpose and and end in sight, you can do the extra hours, go that little bit harder and with more focus, however something has to give eventually.

    When I think back to my younger years, where I worked a 40+ hour week, and played 4 nights a week in a band + rehearsal, I was able to push out 80+ hours (without the aid of amphetamines ;-) and still function, becuase I was working in two totally different roles.

    I am noticing now, some years later, jumping between sales during money time and technical after hours, diminishing returns on the extra time spent. (It may also have somethng to do with my age too :-)

    We are still in catch up mode after a brutal start to last year, however the end is in sight and the effort is payng off. I just hope the “cost” is worth it.

    Thanks for the effort you go to each day. You’ve made me think and reminded me of the why in what I am doing here.

    Cheers

    25 January 2010



  7. Matt Reyes says:

    Great article! Thanks for posting it Sam!

    31 August 2009



  8. Maurice Dixon says:

    Several years ago when our Son was starting in the work-world, his Corp. because thingswere slow required everyone to take some time off. ( Sounds like today).
    I suggested to him( and he took my advice) that he not take the time off. Just keep working and contribute those days to help his Corp.
    His boss asked him when he was going to take his time off and he explained that he wasn’t going to. It was a lesson learned for every one.
    I just read that the wage and hour laws would not allow that type of thing to happen today???

    31 August 2009



  9. Roger Braswell says:

    Great article Sam. The work-life balance is something we all struggle with at times. There are so many gray areas for most of us that it would be hard to draw a line between things that directly affect our job and things that don’t. Things like networking and attending association events come to mind. It’s something I have challenges with.
    When people ask me the typical question about staying busy, I have to jokingly clarify that I’m always busy but how productive remains to be seen. I’d love to know how you actually kept track of your time. My days seem to end up being spent fighting brush fires despite my best laid plans.
    Keep up the good work!

    31 August 2009


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