I recently read a story that described the work schedule of a small village in India. In this very old, thriving farm village they practice a very unique work schedule. Work for 3 hours, take a break for lunch and rest for 3 hours, then get back to work for 3 hours. The entire village works this way, and probably always has. This work method intrigued me, as I have never believed that the 8 hour work day that we practice in the U.S has been most beneficial for optimal energy and performance.
So I tried it. I also added in additional 3 hour segments, basically breaking my entire day into 3 hour segments. Here's an average day:
- Wake-up at 5am - 8am - Yoga, breakfast and shower
- Work - 8am - 11am - work on Co-Op Web and WOTV projects, write.
- Break at 11am - 2pm - lunch, no phone, no computer - everything is shut off.
- Work 2pm - 5pm - do design projects, meetings and phone calls with clients.
The benefits I have noticed so far are wonderful.:
1.My eyes aren't burning at the end of the day
2.In the past, I would run out of energy by the mid-afternoon and it would result in me being less effective and unable to focus on a project as well.
3.I have always been a morning person, taking a break in the middle of the day allows for me to have two "mornings". I have a burst of energy in the afternoon after the rest.
4.I have been much more productive, accomplishing my "list" for the day (I don't like lists, so it's a virtual list.)
5.I am finding more balance (living without a cell phone and computer for 3 hours in the middle of the day was my biggest challenge.)
I realize that since I work for myself at a home-based office, my schedule can be more flexible. I don't have a daily commute and I can make my own hours. Would a schedule like this work for you? Do you have the flexibility to break your day into 3 hour segments? There are so many ways to create a flexible work schedule that works for you and your work environment. Perhaps discussing flexible work schedules with your employer, using some of the data from companies who are trying it with success. Many large employers are adopting more flexible work schedules and are seeing some of the same benefits that I have witnessed.
According to Wikipedia, recent studies supporting a four day work week have shown that reduced work hours not only increase consumption and invigorates the economy but also improve worker's level of education (due to having extra time to take classes and courses), worker's health (less work-related stress and extra time for exercise), and saves money on daycare costs and transportation, which in turn helps the environment with less carbon-related emissions. The aggregate of all these extra benefits, actually improves overall productivity, since workers can be more productive on a per-hour basis, due to improved health, reduced stress and better overall quality of life.
The village I refer to in India, is not the only place that practices shorter work weeks, even an industrialized nation, such as France, has adopted a 35 hour work week, that started in February, 2000. The 35 hour work week was initially imposed to yield more work from employees and at the same time help remedy unemployment, since a decrease of 10% of hours, would require firms to hire more workers. Perhaps it's time for the United States to take a look at this type of work environment in order to put more of our people to work and reduce our unemployment rate.
Then again, there's the other side of the scale. Who said too much of a good thing is bad? The Kapauku people of Papua think it is bad luck to work two consecutive days. The !Kung Bushmen work just two-and-a-half days per week, rarely more than six hours per day. The work week in Samoa is approximately 30 hours, and though average annual Samoan cash income is relatively low, by some measures, the Samoan standard of living is quite good.
I absolutely LOVE this article. What an incredibly sensible and inspirational idea! I'd love to try it - the 5am start not good for me but I could work it in a little later... :) Reclaiming 3 hours in which to do "life" sounds like pure heaven and the best thing I've read for ages. Thank you so much for the great round-up of ideas. Always love your writing!
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