The real reason for the forty-hour work week

The eight-hour workday developed during the industrial revolution in Britain in the 19th century, as a respite for factory workers who were being exploited with 14- or 16-hour workdays.

As technologies and methods advanced, workers in all industries became able to produce much more value in a shorter amount of time. You’d think this would lead to shorter workdays.

But the 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.

Interesting perspective.

I’m seeing this in my own life. Repeatedly working a strict 8-hour day (plus travel) leaves me tired, time-poor and far too quick to choose to purchase (food, electronics etc.) as a way to make things more ‘easy’ and ‘enjoyable’. Working a more flexible schedule with correctly-set priorities (focusing on my own health, family and community) leads to a much more satisfactory financial and lifestyle balance.

More > (well worth reading in full… h/t to Jon Husband for the link)

5 Incredibly Effective Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder

Terrific article by Jeff Haden, posting tips from Belle Beth Cooper:

Regular readers know I definitely believe in the power of hard work. As Jimmy Spithill, skipper of Team Oracle USA, says, “Rarely have I seen a situation where doing less than the other guy is a good strategy.”

But we can all work smarter, too. And clearly we all want to, as evidenced by the popularity of this recent post, 5 Scientifically Proven Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder.

The tips were provided by Belle Beth Cooper, content crafter at Buffer, the maker of a social-media management tool that lets you schedule, automate, and analyze social-media updates. (Cooper is also the co-founder of Exist.)

That post was so popular I asked Cooper for more ways anyone can make a workday more productive without putting in extra hours.

You’ll definitely want to read the full article, but here’s a summary of the tips (provided by Michael Sampson):

  1. Rework your to do list – limit the number of items you put on it, and write it the night before, so you can focus only on today.
  2. Measure your results, not your time – evaluate yourself by what you get done, rather than the time it takes to get something done.
  3. Build habits to help you start working – e.g., build a routine that tells your body and brain that it’s time to work.
  4. Track where you waste time – and do something about it.
  5. Build habits to help you stop working – quit while you’re ahead, set a firm cut-off time, plan something cool for after work, or create a wind-down routine.

So much good stuff there.  Now to stop wasting time writing blog posts and crack on!