According to several studies, quite a few. Some countries, such as Sweden, have already experimented with a six-hour workday in their businesses. Besides improving productivity, working fewer hours has been shown to increase levels of happiness and wellbeing, as well as lowering stress levels and giving us more energy outside of working hours.
There’s often a misconception that there’s a linear relationship between productivity and the number of hours worked - that the longer we work, the more we’ll get done. First of all, this is seldom the case as we begin to become less effective with the more hours we put in. Secondly, too many hours without ample breaks or rest means we deplete our mental energy stores and begin to lose willpower when it comes to finishing tasks.
The long and short of it is, our stress levels rise and our personal leisure time is affected because we’re too drained and exhausted to get out and enjoy life. This is a short route to burnout and it’s a huge health risk.
“It’s much better to work fewer hours and to recognise the point of diminishing returns.”
Recognising that it is possible to accomplish our most important work in a shorter block of time means we’ll stay better focused and less distracted during working hours. Plus we’ll have greater energy and resilience to give our best work long-term.
So it’s much better to work fewer hours and to recognise the point of diminishing returns. Call it quits when we feel we’ve achieved enough and get a fresh start the next day.
The shorter working day has a positive impact on our health. Research carried out amongst a group of nurses in a care home in Sweden showed that less sick time was taken by nurses working six-hour days versus their control group counterparts, who worked longer hours in a similar facility.
Working longer hours is also related to less sleeping. Sleep is a fundamental requirement for good health. There are well-documented examples of how regular sleep deprivation can lead to increased risk of stroke, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, depression and early death. So it could be time to give your working hours a nip and tuck.
Cory Cook works to improve time management for busy business people.