Why We Should Work Less

Office - Koh Lanta FT

Office – Koh Lanta

I wake up everyday and decide what I’m going to do, I create a daily to-do list and go through my tasks. Sometimes I decide the night before, sometimes the previous week. Sometimes I wake up and feel like doing nothing! What do I like about this? I decide my own schedule and when I should work more or less.

It’s funny how enjoying life as opposed to being constantly working can easily be labelled as “lazy” or “irresponsible”, when it’s actually just a matter of choice. It’s not that we don’t want to work, we want to work with what we like and when we want.

However, it’s not that easy.

Getting Paid Per Hour


I remember when I left Brazil almost a decade ago, arrived in the UK and soon started working. After having so many differents jobs here and in New Zealand, there was one thing that always impressed me a lot — getting paid by the hour.

If a company has a position that only needs someone for two days a week, four hours per shift, it’s not a problem, they’ll find a willing person. Likewise, if you’d like to work only Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, you might find a place with those hours available.

Of course not everyone is paid by the hour, some managerial positions are just like anywhere, you have a monthly or yearly salary and are expected to work around 40 hours a week, unless of course, you’re in hospitality!

You can work part time or even be paid by the hour in Brazil, but it’s not a common practice in the private sector. People tend to work less if they’re an intern — 20 to 30 hours a week — or self employed. Very rarely do you have the chance to plan your working week as you please; always moving meetings around or using sick days so you can attend that doctor’s appointment.

Plus, when you have two people working part time as opposed to one working full time, you’re actually making sure you don’t have an unemployed person.

Things are changing though, the concept of the “hour bank” is increasing and making people’s life slightly more manageable. You need to work 40 hours, but you choose how to do so. So one day you can work four hours, and then work an extra hour for the next four days.

Flexibility – Working Less


I praise flexibility a lot, but more important than flexibility is the choice to actually work less, not 40 hours, 30 maybe or 20 or even less and still carry on having the same standard of life with perhaps a few changes here and there.

Since the Industrial Revolution 40 hours a week became the “standard”, but nowadays it’s somewhat outdated. More and more people are willing to work less and earn less; or just work less earning the same.

Later on when I moved to the north of England, I made the decision to work less; I knew rent and entertainment were a lot cheaper than in London — hey, £360 for a Studio Flat a month including bills and £9.90 two course meals in pretty much every restaurant is incredible!

I had decided I wouldn’t work more than 30 hours a week, but in reality I averaged 15 to 25 hours. Considering I have a frugal lifestyle, this was enough for all my expenses and I could even save a little; it was brilliant.

More Time For You


The funny thing that happens when you have more free time is that you actually have time to do the things you love; you have time to try new things. Can I draw nice pictures? No, I’m crap, but I had fun trying for a while! Can I play the harmonica? No, I’m terrible, but I know if I put in the time I might get somewhere.

If you love your job and wake up everyday feeling ultra happy for another day at the office, by all means ignore this post. However, if it’s like a daily hell, you might want to consider finding a new job or a new career, but you need time.

I wasn’t particularly happy with mine. It wasn’t bad mind you, I suppose I just had enough and chose to pursue something different. The point is, it was lot easier to figure out what I wanted to do and spend some time doing it once I managed to work less.

I understand it’s not that simple and many employers wouldn’t allow something like that to happen. Not simple and not easy doesn’t mean not possible. We have the eight hour day and 40 hour week so ingrained in our minds that thinking otherwise seems weird, but it’s not.

Imagine for a second you managed to convince your boss — less hours, less money. Now you’d probably have to adjust your lifestyle to match your income decrease; for some it would be a piece of cake, for others a painful sacrifice, but if you have a solid goal in mind, it’s worth it.

So, to finish this article on a high note, I’d suggest you think about what you would do if you had more free time. Spend time playing with your kids? Drawing? Singing? Working on that startup? Seeing relatives? Travelling more?

You see, you don’t necessarily have to leave your dreams behind; if they are important, you have every right in the world to fight for them.

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