Have you ever wondered how many hours is the ideal number of hours you should work per week? Here’s the answer: it’s 38 hours. (I’ll explain why in a moment.)
But perhaps you are one of those people who brags about your 70-hour workweek. Or maybe you are on the other end of the spectrum, chasing the4-hour workweekdream.
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Whatever your particular appetite for work is, know that there’s plenty of evidence that putting in more hours each week doesn’t necessarily equate to higher productivity. Research tells us thatproductivity falls sharply after 50 hours per week, and drops off a cliff after 55 hours. Additionally, not taking at least one full day off per week leads to lower hourly output overall.
Research also reveals the damage to our physical health that overwork can cause. Astudy from the World Health Organization (WHO)found that working an average of 55 hours or more each week increases your risk of stroke by 35 percent and your risk of dying from heart disease by 17 percent, compared to averaging a 35-40 hour workweek.
Our non-stop lifestyle has also resulted in additional work-related stress. 48 percent of employees reported feelingrushed for time, and 52 percent said they feel significant stress as a result. That’s probably why the four-hour workweek is such an enticing dream, even if it’s not entirely feasible for the average worker.
So how do we get everything done without feeling like we’re in a constant relay race?
Ideal work hours per day and week
It’s time to stop measuring productivity
Time management expertLaura Vanderkamconducted a study to determine how the number of hours you work each day affects how much time you think you have.
Of the 900 people included in the study, the average employee worked 8.3 hours per day. And the results showed that there was only a one-hour difference between the workers who felt like they had a lot of time and those who felt time-pressured. Those who felt like they had the least time overall worked 8.6 hours, whereas those who felt like they had the most time worked just one hour less, or 7.6 hours.
So to not feel starved for time, aim for a 7.6 hour workday. That would equate to a 38-hour workweek.
What about alternative work schedules?
If you’re new to this idea, some examples of alternative work schedules include:
- 4 x 10-hour days (40 hours)
- 4 x 8-hour days (32 hours)
- 5 x 6-hour days (30 hours)
Each of these options has the benefit of giving you extra time for personal matters where you didn’t have it before – either bycondensing a traditional workweek into four days, or by simply putting in fewer hours. As to which format might suit you best, it’s really a matter of your personal responsibilities, your job responsibilities, and your employer’s willingness to be flexible.
Parents with school-aged children, for example, might be thrilled with a schedule that has them working five days a week with slightly reduced hours each day. That way, they essentially work while the kids are at school. Or, busy human resources professional might need 40 hours each week to get all their work done, but would benefit from compressing those hours into a 4-day schedule that affords them an extra day off (and keeps burnout at bay).
Non-traditional schedules are gaining traction in places like Spain and Scandinavia. So watch this space. And speaking of Scandinavia…
Work hours and happiness
A 38-hour workweek is remarkably similar to the number of hours worked in Denmark, consistently one of the world’s happiest countries (Denmark has placed among the top three happiest countries on theWorld Happiness Reportin each of the last eight years). People in Denmark work hard and are just as productive as other workers, but rarely put in more than 37 hours a week, often leaving the office by 4 or 5 PM each day. OtherScandinavian countriesenjoy a similar work-life balance and similar happiness rankings.
Happiness expert Dan Buettnertakes it even a step further. Buettner has reviewed the research on more than 20 million people worldwide through theGallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index, and has conducted extensive on-the-ground research in the world’s happiest countries. “When it comes to your work, try to work part-time, 30–35 hours a week on average,” he says.
Buettner also recommends taking six weeks of vacation per year, which is the optimal amount for happiness. If that isn’t possible, he says at the very least you should use all of your allotted vacation days and keep negotiating for more until you’re getting six weeks.
Unfortunately,American employees are not taking half of their vacation days, and two-thirds of Americans report working even when they are on vacation.
What is Parkinson’s Law and why is it sabotaging your productivity?
By Kat BoogaardIn Productivity
Maybe 30 work hours per week and six weeks of vacation is not practical for you. But that’s okay.
If you want to achieve the perfect blend of productivity, happiness, and time affluence, a more realistic goal is to work slightly below 40 hours per week.
The research shows that even shaving an hour or two off of the standard 40-hour workweek can have huge benefits, both at work and at home.
Less than 10% of workers are able to achieve that schedule. A good goal is to be one of those people.
Here’s to a shorter, happier workweek!
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How many hours is a good work life balance? ›
As well, there are also studies saying that companies that impose their employees daily working hours are also less productive. In the end, scientists generally agree that the ideal daily working time is around 6 hours, and more concentrated in the morning.Is working 70 hours too much? ›
Working 70-hour weeks can be challenging, but it's also a way for some people to achieve their financial and career goals. By learning strategies to coordinate your work and manage your priorities, you can make this schedule more sustainable and continue pursuing an ambitious career path.Is working 55 hours too much? ›
Prior studies have associated working more than 11 hours a day with higher risks of heart attack. Researchers have found a link between working more than 55 hours a week and greater issues with sleep disturbances.How many hours of work do you actually do? ›
For most people, the actual work hours are 2-3 hours, with 6 hours being the maximum productive hours in a day. You'll be most productive for 2-3 hours daily if you do mentally draining jobs.Is working 70 hours a week healthy? ›
But a study in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine shows that consistently surpassing this standard can be detrimental to your health. Researchers found that working 61 to 70 hours a week increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 42 percent, and working 71 to 80 hours increased it by 63 percent.Is working 50 hours a week healthy? ›
A study from the World Health Organization (WHO) found that working an average of 55 hours or more each week increases your risk of stroke by 35 percent and your risk of dying from heart disease by 17 percent, compared to averaging a 35-40 hour workweek.How many hours is unhealthy work? ›
55 or more work hours a week is unhealthy.
Recent studies have found that when people work more than 54 hours a week, on average, their risk of stroke and dying of heart disease goes up significantly. However, everyone is wired differently, so working 45 hours a week may be just as unhealthy for some.
It might not be the healthiest long-term solution to work 80 hours a week. However, it can sometimes be unavoidable. If you are working an 80 hour week, try to do it intermittently or for short periods. The most important thing you need to consider to avoid burnout is to keep a healthy sleep schedule.How many hours a week does Elon Musk work? ›
Musk claims he regularly works 80 to 100-hour workweeks, with most of his skillset being focused on design and engineering work.Is it healthy to work 65 hours a week? ›
Work hours per week: Working too much is bad
"The more time we spend at work the less time we have for other important things in life." Research suggests that working excessively long hours — usually this means more than 45 a week — is detrimental to your health, physical and mental, in many ways.
Is working over 60 hours a week too much? ›
It isn't uncommon to have a 60-hour workweek occasionally, but some individuals find themselves repeatedly working these extra-long hours. If you are one of them, you may feel overworked which can affect your health, both mentally and physically.Is working 60 hours a week healthy? ›
Let's keep it straight to the point: working more than 55-hour per week leads to early death from stroke and heart-related problems. A global study by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that long hours workweeks account for more than 745,000 deaths from stroke and heart disease every single year.Is working 40 hours a week too much? ›
According to a study from the Australian National University, working 40 hours a week, or more, can be lead to mental health issues. Whether you stick to working eight-hours a day or work overtime, you could be doing more harm than good to your body.Is working 10 hours a day hard? ›
Long hours: A 10-hour workday is a long one, and not every worker has the stamina for it. Plus, working longer hours (more than 10 hours a day) has been shown to have negative impacts on employee health.Is working 12 hours a day productive? ›
Increased productivity and fewer errors - In a 12-hour shift schedule, there are only two shift turnovers per day, resulting in fewer opportunities for miscommunications and disruptions that sometimes occur during shift changeover periods.How many Americans work 60 hours a week? ›
While four in 10 workers put in a standard 40-hour workweek, many others toil longer than that, including nearly one in five (18%) who work a grueling 60 hours or more.How do you know if you are working too much? ›
You've lost your passion
Another sign that you're overworked is losing passion for your job. It's impossible to feel fulfilled by and excited about your career when you are working crazy hours all day, every day. If you dread going to work, that's a sign you may be spending too much time there.
You might feel you're working too many hours if you're: having mental or physical health problems because of overwork. working more than the legal limit of 48 hours a week.How much overtime is too much for salary? ›
The results provide a window into how much overtime is too much. Twenty-five percent beyond normal weekly working hours may be the acceptable limit.What happens to your body when you work long hours? ›
Too much work can be damaging to your mental and physical health. You're more likely to suffer from adverse health problems, including neck, back, or chest pain, stroke, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and anxiety.
How much is too much work? ›
Alarming new research shows that people working more than 54 hours a week are at major risk of dying from overwork. It's killing three-quarters of a million people each year.Is 72 hours of work too much? ›
Working 72–76 hours per week is not rare, but working that amount of time and feeling balanced is quite rare.How many hours does Elon Musk? ›
“My workload went up from about 70 to 80 hours a week to probably 120,” Musk said during an onstage interview with Ron Baron, a billionaire mutual fund investor whose firm, Baron Capital Group, hosted the conference. Baron Capital Group is a shareholder of Musk's Tesla.Is working 72 hours a week healthy? ›
But a study in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine shows that consistently surpassing this standard can be detrimental to your health. Researchers found that working 61 to 70 hours a week increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 42 percent, and working 71 to 80 hours increased it by 63 percent.Is working 90 hours a week good? ›
Working long hours means you're more likely to face both physical and mental problems. Skipping meals or gulping down takeaways, as well as not exercising enough, may cause serious health issues. Staying focused for a long period of time is hard.What is working 80 hours a week like? ›
If you work for at least 80 hours per week, you have 88 hours for other, non-work-related activities. You will have roughly 12,5 hours of free time every day. If you aim to sleep at least 7 hours per day, you are left with 5,5 hours for other activities: meals, socializing, hobbies, and other.What is Elon Musk 5 minute rule? ›
What is Elon Musk 5 minute rule? Elon Musk 5 minute rule is one of the best time management techniques. It makes you divide your day into blocks of time. Each block is dedicated to accomplishing one or more tasks, allowing you to have a concrete schedule that lays out what you will work on and when.How many hours do Tesla employees work? ›
How Many Hours Do Tesla Employees Work? With Tesla factory workers working consistent 4 days of 12-hour shifts with 3 days off, these employees are always working overtime. They work for 48 hours a week, which is over the full-time work standard for Americans of 40 hours per week.How many hours per week is unhealthy? ›
But many of us are guilty of working long hours and not focusing on our health. So how much work is too much? A recent study by the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization shows that working more than 55 hours a week can have negative effects on your health.How much a year is 60 dollars an hour? ›
$60 hourly is how much per year? If you make $60 per hour, your Yearly salary would be $124,800. This result is obtained by multiplying your base salary by the amount of hours, week, and months you work in a year, assuming you work 40 hours a week.
Is working 16 hours a day healthy? ›
It's not recommended to work too much. Having a good work and life balance is an important part of your mental health. It can lead to burnout, but sometimes you have to put in extra hours. Here are 4 tips to help you successfully work 16 hours a day.How do you survive a 60 hour work week? ›
- Plan your sleep first, then work schedule second.
- Take conscious, structured breaks.
- Exercise and eat healthy.
- Pick a day to take off completely.
- Prep on Sunday for the week.
- Work a 1-2 hour block at night.
- Plan hard tasks during the time of day you are most focused.
To survive long work hours, keep yourself healthy. Get enough exercise, eat a healthy diet, manage stress effectively, and take regular breaks during your work day. It's important to do what you can to work more productively as well. Keep an activity log so that you know how you spend your time.How many 12 hours shifts can you work in a row? ›
“An employer should give an employee enough breaks to make sure their health and safety isn't at risk if that work is 'monotonous' (eg work on a production line).” Secondly, the law stating that you may not work more than 48 hours a week, which would suggest no more than four 12-hour shifts in a row.How can I work 60 hours a week without getting tired? ›
- Take regular breaks. Taking breaks can help you avoid making mistakes due to fatigue. ...
- Change your scenery. ...
- Get plenty of sleep. ...
- Eat healthily. ...
- Exercise regularly. ...
- Prioritize your tasks. ...
- Take some days off.
Working smarter, not longer. Most research suggests that 50 hours per week are the absolute maximum for productivity and health.Is working 7 days a week healthy? ›
While working seven days a week can affect your mental health and long-term productivity, there are several ways to manage this type of work schedule. Understanding the various ways to do this can help you avoid burnout and may grant you greater job satisfaction.Is 2080 hours full-time? ›
Based on a standard work week of 40 hours, a full-time employee works 2,080 hours per year (40 hours a week x 52 weeks a year).Is it better to work 4 10 hour shifts or 5 8 hour shifts? ›
The math is simple: working five eight-hour shifts is equivalent to working four 10-hour shifts. That's true. But the implications of these schedules are different. The danger is in disregarding the health effects that can occur as a result of fatigue and stress that accumulate over a longer-than-normal working day.What is a 4 on 4 off 10 hour schedule? ›
[4 on 4 off]
It can have 10 hour shifts or 10.5 hour shifts. It will total approximately 35 hours a week with just 10 hour shifts.
What is a 4-day 10 hour work schedule? ›
What is a 4/10 compressed work schedule? The most common compressed work arrangement type is a 4/10 schedule, which means an employee works four 10-hour days (Monday through Thursday), with Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off. You'll also hear this arrangement referred to as “a four-day workweek.”What is a 4 5 5 4 12 hour shift schedule? ›
The system involves four (4) shifts on, five (5) off followed by five (5) shifts on, four (4) shifts off followed by five (5) shifts on, five (5) shifts off, on a continuing basis.Why 8 hour shifts are better than 12? ›
With an 8-hour shift, work schedules tend to be more consistent, and each workday ends earlier. This helps create a work routine that is more regular and stable. The main drawback of an 8-hour shift is that you get fewer days off and have to come into work more often.What is a 4 3 12 hour work schedule? ›
For three days you work 12 hours during the day, have two days off; work 12 hours on nights for 4 days, have 3 days off; work 12 hours on days for 3 days etc. Of course there are many variations on this theme.Is 40 hours a week good work-life balance? ›
It's also a great formula for work-life balance, or a work-life circle, if you prefer. Don't underestimate the importance of sleep! 41 million American workers aren't getting enough. A lot of respected experts on work and health agree: 40 hours is the right target for your work week.Is working 12 hours a day healthy? ›
It's important to recognize that there can be negative health concerns that come with working a 12 hour shift. Consistently working long shifts can contribute to sleep disorders, obesity and chronic fatigue. It can be difficult to get enough sleep or stick to a regular sleep schedule.Is 40 hours of work a lot? ›
Yes, it is. It's exhausting, bad for health (not only physical but also mental), doesn't leave me much time for me, dogs, family, and I feel like work consumes me and almost all of my time. Two days off are definitely not enough to restore myself for a new week.Is working 35 hours a week good? ›
A lot of people think that to be the most productive they should work for 60 hours a week, but study after study has shown that the optimal number of hours you should work is about half that number, at 35.Is working 60 hours a week too much? ›
So, we must recognize how overworking our bodies can lead to unintended health problems. The key to health is to work within the recommended 40–50 hours per week. This allows you the time to take care of your body, rest, sleep and stay healthy.Is working 90 hours a week healthy? ›
At issue, in part, is sleep deprivation. Working 80 to 90 hours a week could mean working 11 to 18 hours a day depending on whether you've allowed yourself a weekend. Such a schedule doesn't leave time for much else, including sleep. Insufficient rest can hamper a person's ability to focus and think creatively.
Is working a lot of hours worth it? ›
Working overtime does bring in more money, but an additional hour with friends and family can be just as important at the end of the day. The only time you should say yes to working overtime is when you know it will fit in with your schedule and won't cause too much disruption to your everyday life.How many working hours a week is unhealthy? ›
So how much work is too much? A recent study by the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization shows that working more than 55 hours a week can have negative effects on your health.Is 9 5 40 hours a week? ›
The traditional American business hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, representing a workweek of five eight-hour days comprising 40 hours in total. These are the origin of the phrase 9-to-5, used to describe a conventional and possibly tedious job.Is it worth working 8 hours a week? ›
The 2019 study, published in Social Science & Medicine, found that working just eight hours a week was enough to gain the well-being benefits of employment and that happiness and well-being did not increase alongside hours.