From the Desk of Peter Handal, CEO

Is the 40 Hour Workweek a Thing of the Past?

by robertr

September 27th, 2007
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In this day and age of the ‘everything quicker and faster’ craze, I wonder if a 40 hour week is enough to do all the things that are expected of us? Some surveys show that the average workweek has actually decreased to 39.2 hours. With those statistics, how could we possibly be completing all our work and getting the job done? For example, I’m writing this on a Sunday morning, not exactly a normal work hour. Am I doing something wrong?

Technology is a major factor in this phenomenon of increased expectations. Laptops, cellular internet connections, Blackberrys, instant messaging, all play a significant role in higher productivity in the workplace. Over this summer, I saw people on their Blackberrys on the beaches of Long Island, New York, or on their cells as they rode their bikes in Central Park in Manhattan. People do not need to be in their offices, at their computers to be connected to their business anymore. They can now access email from virtually anywhere. And this increases the expectations for immediate responses. For example, I recently had someone upset at me because I didn’t respond to a Friday night email until Monday morning!

What does all this mean for companies’ old time method of clocking hours? Successful productivity really should now be based on objectives being met, rather then what the time card shows. Maybe the time clock will become as obsolete as the buggy whip!

Here are some suggestions for managing your time both inside and outside the office:

  • Don't overbook.

This may seem unusual to people who try to jam as much as possible into every workday. The problem is: Things rarely go according to a prearranged agenda. That means a lot of time falling through the cracks chasing down appointments, unreturned phone calls and other items that simply aren't going to happen.

  • Prioritize ruthlessly.

The secret to booking your time effectively boils down to knowing what's important and what can wait. Negotiate longer lead times whenever you can and don't give into the “instant-and-immediate answer” syndrome. Treating everything as top priority is draining and depleting, not to mention impossible anyway.:

  • Learn how to say no.

One of the biggest land mines to effective time management is recognizing you don't have to agree to everything and with everyone. Use your priority criteria to identify requests that simply aren't worth your time. Saying no to one thing opens the door to saying yes to something else. That can mean anything from cleaning my desk to getting a good night's sleep.:

  • Organize.

Bringing your time into line isn't just a matter of scheduling. The mechanics of how you operate can be every bit as important. That means organizing most every element to allow as smooth a workflow as possible. Everything in your business should be set up using logical systems so anyone needing anything can find it when they need it.

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