How to work fewer hours, do more and enjoy life

  • Human beings love the hype of working non-stop and striving for the easier life thinking they will achieve it through working too many hours per week. Is that true, though?
  • What will you miss out on if you dedicate 70% of your everyday life to work? Will you regret it when the time comes?
  • There are a few very important things you should think about that will help you be more productive and truly enjoy your life apart from working.
    working too many hours

As humans, we love living in a herd environment. Do something different and you are a bit weird. Nuts. Bonkers. And a bit loopy too.

Sometimes we get so used to doing things that we ignore what they mean. For example, I deal with figures on a daily basis. Some are large and some are small and I tend to forget that with some clients overspending $5,000 does not matter, yet for others, it could mean living for life on cabbage soup like Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Working long hours is another one. I have started to notice a trend in Australia I have not seen before. Everyone seems to be having a competition on how many hours they work in a day or week. The more they work, the prouder they are. Apparently, I am lazy because I only work 3 and half days a week.

But just to illustrate how bonkers, that is one of my doctor clients, got a kick in their guts and now his mind is going a bit, well, nuts, bonkers and a bit loopy too, let me tell you a story.

So what happened? Well, this doctor usually works incredibly long hours. His wife complains and his kids feel neglected. Even his phone has started to cry from overuse. I have been working with him for the last year to try to reduce the hours he works. Unfortunately, I was only partially successful. And then something unfortunate happened.     

Now being a GP my doctor client has probably had his fair share of patients dying or having to tell them of a sad diagnosis. The thing is, the consultation is probably no more than half an hour and then the next patient is about to come in and they are hoping it will be George Clooney or Keira Knightley. This means they become a bit distracted and forget about their dying patient until the dying patient’s next appointment.

A couple of weeks ago my GP client was informed that his brother-in-law who is in his mid-thirties has an inoperable brain tumour. It’s now a lot closer to home. My doctor client’s wife is obviously very upset and family life has changed. As he gets more involved in the process of dealing with his brother-in-law about to die, he is now asking questions about himself, his life. Is he adequately set up in the event that something was to happen to him? Will he have regrets? What has he not done he would love to do?

This is all very sad and I know you want to stop reading. No one likes to talk about death or planning for it but I will give you two certainties in life and that is this. One is, you will pay taxes. The second is that you will die. And there is not much you can do about it.

There are only a few things in life, which, when you don't it, you will regret later in life. Spending time with family, travelling, doing what you want, making a difference and doing the right things to people you know and love are just a few.

So let me ask you this. If you are on your deathbed, what are the chances of you saying ‘my regret in life is that I worked 50 hours a week’? I wished I worked 60 hours a week. This is what most people, especially those who compete with others on hours they work, do not realise. Very rarely do we actually want to work long hours yet somehow if we don’t, we feel guilty. How insane is that? Nuts and bonkers, actually, to be quite honest.

I worked out a number of years ago that my life is about what I want to do. Don’t get me wrong, I love advising and helping businesses, especially doctors, but if I do this 70% of the time it means I have only 30% for everything else and that does not seem fair.

So if you are spending 70% of your time working and only have 30% for everything else and want to change things around, what do you do?

Here are a few things to think about.

 

Long Hours will Kill You

Who says so? University College London does. And it was not a Mickey Mouse Survey of a few hundred people. This was a study of 85,000 people over 10 years. It basically states that if you work 55 hours a week or more you are 40% more likely to suffer heart failure and stroke-related dementia. This study also backs up an earlier study reported in a medical journal The Lancet with a sample of 600,000 people worldwide. It suggested that working more than 55 hours a week increases your chances of a stroke by 33%.

Think about it for a second. You work long hours in hopes of making more money so you can spend more time doing what you want. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer to live longer and not have my family wailing behind my coffin because I died early, especially if the reason I died early was that I thought if I worked hard, eventually I would spend more time with them.

So if you actually want to do all the things you want in life, slow down.

 

Switch off the Goddamn Phone

Have you ever seen how some people caress their phones? The way it is done I sometimes think they are holding some kind of a sex toy giving orgasms on demand. Obviously, I am using the wrong buttons because it never works for me. That is probably because my phone does not ‘beep’ every time a message or email comes through. I have to actually manually check my messages or email. On a weekend, my phone is rarely with me. Guess what? I have never lost a client or lost business because of it.

One of my clients recently dived full in and switched off Wi-Fi and the Internet on his phone for an entire weekend. His verdict? He had the best weekend in a very long time. Try it and see. I guarantee the world will not end if you find out you missed on Twitter that Angelina Jolie has adopted a child from Madagascar and decided to call him “Turbo Charged.” I also doubt when you are on your deathbed you will recall all the social media hours you spent looking at photos and videos on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Take Time Out!

Give some time to yourself. Everyone needs some time out. When you take time out you actually become more productive. I was speaking to one of my wife’s cousins last weekend. She is a career minded person but she just felt she could not cope with everything she was doing in her married and family life. She decided to take Wednesdays off. The result is she is much happier, feels in control, is less tired and her career has if anything benefited simply because she feels better about herself and what she is doing.

I take a lot of time out of my business and I have always found that my best and most profitable ideas have come when I am not working in my business.

 

What I Really Really Want ...

I always say we as humans do it the wrong way around. We should really be concentrating on ourselves first and our job and business should come second. We don’t do this, which means our businesses come first and they get all the attention and suck the life out of us.

Work out what it is you want in life. Then create a business that can give you that lifestyle. If you wish to know more about how to do this see earlier articles I have written on this.   

 

It’s Actually About How You Work

Living in a world of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media outlets means we are constantly distracted. This actually makes us unproductive. Considering how much technology has evolved, there are surveys that suggest we should be extremely efficient but in reality, in some cases, we are less productive. How can that be? It’s because we are constantly distracted.

I might work only three and a half days but when I work those days, my focus it totally 100% on my work. Anything else outside work means I have less time to work which means I would need 4 or 5 days to complete what I actually do in three. So, ask yourself. If you were less distracted, how much time would you save?     

When at work, focus on work. Anything else results in more work time.

 

Only do what you have to do

Most small business owners think they have to be a Jack of all trades. Reality is, when you do it, you become a master of none.

I own and run an accountancy practice, a bookkeeping practice and a consultancy business. Guess what? I have no idea how to generate a set of accounts or tax returns. I don’t even know how the software works. I know exactly how to interpret and explain to a client what it means and what I need to do to make their lives better. I am a master at this.

Doing fewer things means you have more time. If you are running a business you should be pushing as much work down the chain and teaching your team as much as possible so that you get time for yourself.

I'll put it another way. Richard Branson’s success, according to him, is that he gets people better than him to run a project. If it works for him, maybe we should be doing it too.


Hitesh Mohanlal

Hitesh Mohanlal

Director at WOW! Advisors & Business Accountants

I am known as Australia’s Number 1 Business Growth Strategist (profit increase and owner lifestyle improvement specialty), and have been recognised on CNN, Fox, NBC, CBS and ABC. I am also a Chartered Accountant in the UK and Australia and have been practicing for the last 22 years. I run three businesses. I have worked with over 3,500 businesses in Australia, America, UK, Japan and Europe. I work with small to medium enterprises to improve their profits by up to a staggering 2000%


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Jef Lippiatt

Jef Lippiatt , Owner at Startup Chucktown

I think disconnecting (from technology) and taking some time for yourself are wildly important. By taking a break to walk around in nature, relax at the beach or even just read a book that has nothing to do with your business (fiction is a great escape). You will be surprised that business ideas and breakthroughs happen while you are not focused on business at all. The brain needs down time to process more complex thoughts and problems in the background. Staring at the problem longer may not get you anywhere except more frustrated.

Hitesh Mohanlal

Hitesh Mohanlal , Director at WOW! Advisors & Business Accountants

Hi Jeff. Cannot agree more. When working with clients we always get the best when we are actually away from the business without work disruption.