It's been in the news recently (not that recently, I'm a little behind), and you may have heard about it. Sweden is testing out a 6-hour work day. Great! Brilliant. I don't live in Sweden, and you probably don't either (and I can almost guarantee it. My Swedish readership is lagging behind). This isn't the first time this has been tried. Sweden dabbled in a 6-hour work day about a decade ago, and none other than Mr. Kellogg implemented a 6-hour work day in the US in the 30s. You read that correctly! In a time when long hours were standard, he suggested workers would be more productive, happy, and less stressed if they worked fewer hours. What a nutter.
Unfortunately, there are a few barriers to this being rolled out all over the world. There's a lot of paperwork nonsense, and it costs money. Surprise! Money is the barrier (I could talk about how the lessening of costs directed towards sick-leave and stress-leave for your employees might make up for the extra cost, but I won't).
There is good news:
If you are a freelancer, a creative, a blogger, an entrepreneur or some other type of brilliant person working from home, THIS DOESN'T AFFECT YOU. YOU HAVE FREEDOM, MY FRIEND.
You folks working from home don't need to wait for your country to catch up! That's probably part of the reason why you're doing what it is you do. You want the freedom to set your own schedule. To do what you love, when you want to do it. To sleep in. To get up at 4am. To work in fifteen minute intervals for 16 hours (I don't recommend this one). To never put on pants for a three day stretch, and nip outside really, really quickly for the mail (what?).
So, why is a 6-hour work day fantastic for creatives?
According to the Toyota factory in Sweden that has implemented the 6-hour workday (for some time now), the shorter working day lead to MORE productivity, MORE happiness, LESS turnover, LESS injuries, and LESS stress. Doesn't that sound fantastic? And lets be honest. No one works for 8.8 hours anyway (the average American workday)— especially at a desk job. Hello, Pinterest, my old friend. The idea of a more productive day with less stress and more time to do what it is you're striving to do with your paycheck in the first place sounds almost like a dream. But it's completely possible— and I've made a free workbook and planner for you to begin building your most epic productive days yet.
- So how can I start implementing this type of workday? you might be wondering.
- How do I balance work and home life?
- How do I keep myself free from distraction?
- How do I find time to do the things I love when the list of things to do is unending?
The key is a short bursts of productivity, with breaks. Lots of breaks. Although the exact length of the breaks varies from 52 minutes work with 17 minute breaks to 90 minute work periods with 30 minute breaks, taking regular breaks increases productivity and concentration.
And the most important part of these breaks? You have to leave your computer.
Leave the computer.
Go outside. Read. Nap. Shower. Eat. Draw. Dance. Make a seventh cup of coffee— whatever it is, get up, and get away from the mesmerizing all-powerful MacBook. These breaks give you the chance to regenerate your mental energy a bit, and allow you greater concentration when you do return to your task. I promise you, slogging through fourteen hours days is not the solution.
Many people in my graduate program seemed to tout their marathons being shackled to an desk like they were awards. "I haven't slept in 36 hours!" "Maybe I'll eat something tonight that isn't Pringles!" What? Folks, there's one, seriously important thing a lot of these people are missing.
BUSY ISN'T PRODUCTIVE.
It's just not. It doesn't get shit done, and it doesn't make you happy. What does both of these things is focused use of your time, interspersed with things that don't drive up your blood pressure rise. And it's all in your hands, creative mavens.
1. Set your three most important tasks.
These can be tasks that you're drawing from a longer list, but the important thing here is to having your three most important where you can see them, and to forget about the others for now. It really helps you to avoid project overwhelm, and keeps you focused on the things that matter.
2. Start your day with activity.
Beginning your day with moving your body for about thirty minutes not only wakes you up, but it energizes you and makes sitting at a desk for a large chunk of your day a little bit more bearable. Go for a walk around your neighbourhood, and bring your mug of coffee with you. Do some yoga. Or, if you're one of those people— jog. Creating a revitalizing morning routine is key to getting your day off to a brilliant start.
3. Do the most unpleasant task first.
This is probably the world's worst advice, and by that I mean no one wants to follow it. Will it help if I swear to you that it's a fantastic way to make the rest of your day a whole lot shinier? Get it out of the way, and you won't need to spend the next 5hrs and 45 minutes of your work day thinking about it.
4. Take breaks.
As mentioned above, regular breaks are key. Whether the 52 minute work period, or the 90 minute work period (or, dare I say, something in between) works best for you, is entirely up to you. But keep it consistent, and bust out a timer if need be.
5. Take a day off.
Technically, days are part of a larger unit, weeks— so this tip isn't necessarily about the daily schedule. But I'm a rule breaker. Having a day completely free of whatever it is that you do as your moneymaking venture is essential for your mental health. I would even go so far as to say to really optimize your productivity, increase your happiness, and preserve your sanity, you should have two days off, and put one of them in the middle of your workweek. Personally, I'm working up to that second day off as I'm in the middle of preparing for a launch of something very exciting. Afterwards, I'll be taking Wednesdays off, in addition to Saturday, where I can sit around, knit, walk, read, and make art to my hearts content.
To help you put your plan into action, we've put together a 6 page workbook just for you, so you can discover how to best organize your time to become your most productive and happy self. This workbook includes activities and brainstorming exercises, scheduling ideas, and action points so you can put your plan into practise right now.