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How Many Hours in a Week Should You Really Be Working?

Time Management
Last Updated:
January 11, 2024
How Many Hours in a Week Should You Really Be Working?

If we were ever asked, we would all have a difficult time determining the perfect number of working hours per week.

For most of us, our working hours are a combination of factors, including personal choice and the demands of our jobs. However, there is one important factor that you may not have thought about: how many hours do we actually need to work?

What is a Normal Workweek?

In most countries, the average working week is somewhere around 40 hours, mostly clocking in at 09:00 a.m. in the morning and wrapping the workday around 05:00 p.m. . In some countries, it's much less; in others, it can be more than 50 hours a week.

But do we really work for solid 40 hours or is that the amount of time we are present in the office? I'm guessing it's the second one.

It's no wonder that employees accomplish far less than the timetable suggests. This is due to the fact that the vast majority of us are unable to maintain our productivity levels for an entire eight-hour workday.

How Many Hours Is A 7 Day Week?

A 7-day week consists of 168 hours. This is because there are 24 hours in a day, and when you multiply 24 by 7, you get the total number of hours in a week.

How Many Hours A Week Is Healthy To Work?

Various personal circumstances, the type of employment, and the overall work-life balance might affect how many hours a week are deemed healthy to work. For full-time employment, experts and labor regulations generally advise a regular workweek of 40 hours.

Working more than 40 hours a week on a regular basis, however, may have detrimental consequences on productivity, well-being, and health, according to a number of studies and experts. Long work days are linked to more stress, exhaustion, and a higher chance of burnout. It may have an effect on one's personal life as well, leaving less time for leisure activities, rest, and relaxation.

In order to emphasize employees' wellbeing and productivity, there has been an increasing emphasis on encouraging work-life balance and implementing more flexible work arrangements. To increase worker happiness and mental health, several nations have put in place laws that restrict the number of hours that can be worked. In addition, some businesses provide shortened workweeks or flexible scheduling.

The key to long-term wellbeing and productivity is striking a healthy balance between work and personal life. If at all feasible, it is beneficial to go through your work hour expectations with your employer. Alternatively, you may think about time management techniques.

Is Working 20 Hours A Week Bad?

Is Working 20 Hours A Week Bad?

Working 20 hours a week is not necessarily terrible; in fact, it may be the best option for some people and situations. Working 20 hours per week is acceptable or not depending on several conditions, including:

  • Part-Time Employment: Many employers offer part-time opportunities, which often require workers to put in fewer than the typical full-time workweek's 40 hours. For people who are in school, retired, have other responsibilities, or are looking for work-life balance, part-time work may be the best option.
  • Financial Situation: It could be a possibility if a person's requirements can be covered with a 20-hour workweek or by combining several part-time employment.
  • Career Objectives: Some people may decide to work less hours in order to prioritize their own interests, hobbies, or other activities while still holding down a part-time job to support themselves.
  • Health and wellbeing: For those who have stress or health problems, cutting back on work hours might help them better manage their wellbeing.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements: Some professions and industries provide employees with flexible work arrangements that enable them to work less hours while still having a significant impact on their businesses.

The financial ramifications must also be taken into account, as well as if a 20-hour workday generates enough revenue to cover one's commitments and requirements. Working part-time could also prevent you from receiving some benefits, like health insurance or retirement plans, that come with full-time employment.

The viability of a 20-hour workday ultimately relies on the circumstances, choices, and financial factors of each individual. To decide how many hours to work each week, one must carefully consider their goals, financial condition, and preferences for a work-life balance.

Is Working 60 Hours A Week Healthy?

Regularly working 60 hours a week is typically not seen as healthy and can have detrimental effects on both physical and mental health. While occasionally putting in long hours to meet deadlines or deal with pressing situations may be important, doing so on a regular basis can have various negative effects on your health.

  • Burnout: A condition of extreme physical, emotional, and mental tiredness, is brought on by extended periods of overworking. Burnout can lead to decreased productivity, more mistakes, and a decline in enthusiasm in one's job.
  • Physical Health: Not getting enough rest and recuperation time can cause weariness, sleep disruptions, an increased risk of developing chronic illnesses including heart disease, and weaker immune system.
  • Mental Health: Working long hours might increase stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Additionally, it may have an impact on cognition, memory, and judgment.
  • Work-Life Balance: Due to the long hours spent at work, there is little time left over for personal, recreational, familial, and social pursuits, creating a substantial imbalance in one's priorities.
  • Relationships: Due to a lack of time spent together and heightened emotional tiredness, working too much can disrupt relationships with family and friends.
  • Productivity: Contrarily, working overly long hours can reduce productivity since the quality of the job declines and the likelihood of mistakes rises.

Is Working 70 Hours A Week Too Much?

It is undeniably excessive to work 70 hours a week, since it might negatively impact one's physical and emotional health. Working for extended periods of time might make you tired, stressed out, and more likely to burn out. In addition to the direct effects on health, it frequently leads to strained relationships, a worsened work-life balance, and decreased general contentment.

As weariness sets in, productivity tends to decrease and creativity may be hindered. Healthy and sustainable work habits are essential for both personal enjoyment and long-term success. Maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal obligations is crucial for optimum productivity, overall wellbeing, and a more fulfilling and long-lasting career path.

Studies Show What People Do in The Office

Studies Show What People Do in The Office

Vouchercloud polled 1,989 UK office workers as part of a study investigating the online habits and productivity of workers across the country. 'If you had to put a number on it, how much time do you think you spend productively working during work hours on a daily basis?' the study asked. The average response was '2 hours and 53 minutes’ of actual office productivity across all responders.

That's right, you're probably only productive for around three hours a day. The survey then looked at what people did instead of working:

  1. Checking social media
  2. Reading news websites
  3. Discussing out of work activities with colleagues
  4. Making hot drinks
  5. Smoking breaks
  6. Text/ Instant messaging
  7. Eating snacks
  8. Making food in the office
  9. Making calls to partner/ friends
  10. Searching for new jobs

This raises a slew of questions. Why do so many businesses insist on an eight-hour workday when employees can't be productive for the entire time? What are the dangers of forcing our brains to follow that schedule? And, really, how many hours should you be working per week?

The Origin of the Standard: 40 Hours Work Week

The current 8-hour workday, which is what most businesses and jobs conform to, was neither created in response to human behavior and needs nor was it based on the optimal number of hours a human can concentrate.

In fact, it was pioneered in the Industrial Revolution, when people had to work for 10-16 hours so that the factories could run 24/7. Yep! You’ve heard it right: What once was a dream has become a nightmare.

In 1817, Robert Owen advocated for shorter workdays with his slogan “Eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.” Nearly a century later, the eight-hour workday became the norm when Ford Motor Company changed its company policies and stunned the world by lowering it to eight hours while simultaneously doubling earnings in 1914. The end result was increased productivity.

However, it wasn't until the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which made the work week 44 hours long. Later, Congress further limited the workweek to 40 hours.

However, in the last few decades, many of us have experienced a surge in working hours. In fact, according to a report by the New York Times, “The average workweek for a salaried employee in the United States is now 47 hours, up from about 39 hours in 1980.”

Can We Still Benefit from the 40-Hour Work Week?

Can We Still Benefit from the 40-Hour Work Week?

We are no longer living in the Industrial Revolution when an 8-hour shift was the norm. Thanks to the digital and information revolution, we now have tools that can make practically every type of production in almost any industry more efficient than it was previously.

Long story short, we get work done faster. The issue is not with the employee, but with the anachronistic need of working for 8 hours a day.

According to Malissa Clark, a psychologist at the University of Georgia who studies employee well-being and workaholism, concentrating on work for every minute of an eight-hour day is "impossible" for humans. We may spend more than eight hours at our desks, but we are not working for eight hours. That means we spend hundreds of hours a year, if not thousands, of our lives "playing pretend."

Parkinson’s Law suggests that “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” This saying has been proven accurate time and time again in a variety of businesses throughout the world. Arguing for a regular workweek of less than 40 hours feels almost heretical in the age of hustle culture. But, if eight hours isn't always what managers want from office workers—and it's certainly not what the majority of people do—what should we be doing instead?

What Does It Mean When You Overwork?

Overworking refers to pushing yourself to put in overly long hours of labor, frequently beyond what is fair or healthy. Consistently putting in long hours at work while ignoring the need for adequate rest and downtime is involved.

Overwork can result in mental and physical tiredness, elevated stress levels, and decreased productivity. Your general health may suffer, which might result in burnout, broken relationships, and an imbalance between your personal and professional lives.

Overworking may not always lead to better performance and may even be detrimental to your health and happiness in your job. Maintaining a healthy and sustainable attitude to work, which promotes improved general health and happiness, requires striking a balance between work and personal life.

Am I Overworked or Just Lazy?

Self-reflection and a greater comprehension of your work habits and emotions are necessary to distinguish between being overworked and simply being lazy. It's more probable that you are overworked if you frequently work long hours, feel weary, and experience stress or burnout.

Overworking can cause stress on your body and mind, which will be harmful to your general wellbeing. On the other hand, if you routinely put things off, lack the will to do them, and shirk obligations without good cause, it could be a sign of laziness.

However, it's important to refrain from self-criticism and instead take into account other influences that could be affecting your behavior. To determine if changes are necessary to establish a healthy work-life balance or if you need to address any motivational or behavioral difficulties, consider your workload, work environment, and personal life. A mentor, therapist, or trusted friend may offer insightful advice that will help you comprehend and handle any issues you may be dealing with.

How Do I Tell My Boss I'm Overworked?

How Do I Tell My Boss I'm Overworked?

It's important to handle the topic professionally and positively when bringing up your overwork with your manager. To ensure a concentrated conversation, ask your manager for a private meeting.

Express your appreciation for the chances, but respectfully admit that the workload and short deadlines have left you feeling overwhelmed. Give concrete instances to support your argument and to show how it affects your productivity and wellbeing.

Offer suggested remedies, such assigning jobs to others or rearranging your priorities, in order to establish a better work-life balance. Stress your dedication to the position and desire to continue delivering top-notch work.

A constructive and understanding dialogue that can result in significant improvements will be facilitated by demonstrating willingness to working together to discover answers.

What Does Burnout Feel Like?

Burnout is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that results from prolonged and intense stress, particularly related to work or caregiving responsibilities. Burnout can manifest differently in individuals, but some common feelings and symptoms associated with burnout include:

  1. Emotional Exhaustion: Feeling emotionally drained and unable to cope with the demands of work or life. You may experience a lack of motivation, disengagement, and a sense of emotional detachment.
  2. Physical Symptoms: Burnout can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, fatigue, and increased susceptibility to illnesses due to a weakened immune system.
  3. Reduced Performance: You may notice a decline in your job performance or struggle to concentrate and complete tasks effectively.
  4. Cynicism and Negativity: Developing a negative and cynical outlook towards work, colleagues, or life in general. You may find it challenging to see the positive aspects of your job or situation.
  5. Lack of Satisfaction: Feeling unfulfilled or unsatisfied with your accomplishments, even when you achieve significant milestones.
  6. Withdrawal from Responsibilities: Avoiding or distancing yourself from work or social commitments and preferring isolation.
  7. Increased Irritability: Becoming easily irritated or frustrated by minor things that wouldn't typically bother you.
  8. Sleep Problems: Difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restless sleep due to constant rumination and stress.
  9. Loss of Interest: Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, both in and outside of work.
  10. Feeling Helpless: Feeling like you have no control over your work or personal life, leading to a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.
  11. Anxiety and Depression: Burnout can contribute to the development of anxiety and depression, with feelings of sadness and anxiety becoming more prominent.
How Many Hours Is Considered Overworking?

How Many Hours Is Considered Overworking?

The amount of time that is deemed excessive working might vary based on things like labor regulations, industry standards, personal health, and work-life balance. A typical full-time workweek lasts around 40 hours in many nations.

As a result, continuously working a great deal more than this cutoff point—for example, routinely surpassing 50 to 60 hours per week—is often seen as overworking. However, the definition of overworking also considers how much time is spent working and how it affects a person's physical and mental health. Burnout, elevated stress, decreased productivity, and a number of health problems can result from overworking.

To preserve general health and job effectiveness, a sustainable balance between work and personal life is vital.

The Risks of Overworking

The Risks of Overworking

Working too much puts one's physical, mental, and general well-being at serious danger. Long stretches of excessive working hours can cause physical tiredness, chronic fatigue, and sleep problems, which impair the body's capacity to heal and perform at its best.

Overworking can result in increased stress and strain, which can lead to mental health problems including anxiety and depression, as well as increased irritability and impaired cognitive function.

Burnout, which is characterized by emotional detachment, decreased job satisfaction, and a deterioration in job performance, is also significantly influenced by overworking. Social isolation and tense family dynamics can result from putting work before personal relationships and life. Long-term overworking may also hinder professional advancement and raise the chance of mistakes and accidents since it impairs judgment and focus.

Recognizing the symptoms of overworking and taking proactive steps to guarantee appropriate rest, leisure time, and self-care are crucial for maintaining a healthy work-life balance and avoiding these hazards.

Working too much can have negative consequences on your health, family life, and sanity. It's easy to think that you should work more hours because it will lead to a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

But the truth is, working too much will only lead to more stress and burnout. Even when you're not at work, your mind can't rest because it's always thinking about work.

A shorter workweek, whether it's the same 40 hours compressed into four days or fewer hours overall, allows for a better balance between work and life and reduces the risks associated with overworking.

1. Decreased Productivity and Increased Errors

Maybe you're one of those folks who brag about working 70 hours a week. Maybe you're on the opposite end of the spectrum, dreaming of a brand new technique, 4 day work week. Whatever your work appetite, keep in mind that there's plenty of evidence that working more hours per week doesn't always correspond to increased productivity.

Employees that work too much lose efficiency, which is one of the most serious consequences of overworking. Even if they are putting in many hours, the quality of their work may start to degrade over time.

Try adjusting your working schedules and reducing your working hours in the workweek so that you can enhance your productivity and the overall quality of the work.

2. Overworking Slows Down Our Ability to Work

This may be the reason why Henry Ford switched to a 40-hour work week: He realized that working longer hours didn’t necessarily guarantee being more productive. This is supported by a research done in a financial services firm in New Zealand: workers were 20% more productive after switching to a 32-hour/four-day workweek than they were during a 40-hour workweek while still being compensated the same. They were able to accomplish more in less time.

“Work smarter, not harder.” There is a reason we have been hearing this saying for decades. “First, working longer hours does not necessarily mean higher personal productivity,” say Harvard Business School researchers Robert Pozen and Kevin Downey. “Working smarter is the key to accomplishing more of your top priorities each day.”

3. Overworking Takes a Toll on Our Physical Health

There is a growing body of evidence to support how overworking puts employees and organizations at risk. According to a study published by Insurance Journal, overworking increases the risk of being injured by 61 percent, as well as the risk of having chronic diseases like diabetes, arthritis, and cancer.

You've definitely heard the statistics and warnings before: overworking has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and lengthy work hours have been linked to obesity.

All in all, working long hours degrades your fitness level, takes its toll on your diet, and puts stress on your mind and body. What's the end result? Poor circulation, increased weight, cardiac difficulties, higher cholesterol levels, fatigue, poor sleep, poor concentration, nervous disorders, depression, and so on.

4. Overworking Has a Negative Effect On Our Wellbeing: Burnout and Stress in the Workplace

People who work long hours are twice as likely to have a major depressive episode, according to a study, especially if they work more than 11 hours per day. And according to another research by Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, there is a link between happiness and productivity: Workers are 13% more productive when happy. Researchers discovered that happy workers do not work more hours than their discontented counterparts; rather, they are more productive during their working hours.

This simply means more time invested does not, in fact, equal better output. Employees work harder and get more done in a shorter time span when they are happy, without needing to overwork.

So, How Many Hours Should You Work a Week?

So, How Many Hours Should You Work a Week?

We have always wondered how many hours is the ideal number of hours to work per week. But there is no answer to this question as there is no one size that fits all. However, scientists generally agree that the ideal working time is around 6 hours, and more concentrated in the morning.

Employees take advantage of their most productive hours and focus on other daily activities including social, sporting, and cultural.

But, once again, there is no one size that fits all. If you want to find which alternative work schedule suits you best, you need to consider your personal responsibilities, your job responsibilities, and your employer’s willingness to be flexible.

It doesn’t matter if you have more or less time. It’s not so much about having more time but it is about knowing what to do with that time. You may be working five days a week but if you don’t know how to achieve work-life balance, you will still struggle. You need to figure out the ways that work for you to maximize your productivity while reducing your stress.

In Short:

  • Productivity decreases when the employees aren’t able to get everything done.
  • When workers are pressed for time, the quality of their work suffers.
  • When employees can't take time off to learn something new or develop a technique that might benefit the company, growth stalls.
  • Customer service suffers when employees are just concerned with making ends meet rather than developing and maintaining relationships with customers.
  • When people lose interest in their work, morale nosedives. They either burn out or quit their job.

Ways to Deal With Overworking Problem

When you're at work, you should feel enthusiastic, driven, and appreciated. You should have time to learn new things, develop your skills and talents, and contribute to the company's success.

Workplace culture is crucial for keeping employees motivated and satisfied. It's important to create a positive environment and encourage your employees to take control of their work.

Here are some tips on how to deal with overworking problem:

  1. Make sure you set boundaries. For example, once you have completed your work for the day, inform your team that you will not be checking your emails or messages until the following morning. You'll be able to take advantage of your spare time to its fullest and appreciate the here and now.
  2. Make sure you tell your manager if you're feeling overburdened or in need of a break from the long hours you're putting in.
  3. Many people feel that they can multitask, however, this isn't true. Every time you switch from one task to another, it takes your brain a while to adjust. This means that you're not actually working more efficiently by switching between tasks and will end up taking longer to complete your work. The best way to get ahead of the game is to set aside a specific amount of time each day and dedicate it entirely to one task. This will allow you to concentrate.
  4. Don't waste a minute of paid time off; it's there for a good purpose. If you're not using all of the vacation time that your company offers, start taking advantage. You'll feel better about yourself and be healthier if you take a break from work every once in a while.
  5. When you're not working, you should be doing something that will recharge your batteries. This might include spending time with friends and family, exercising or even just taking a walk around the block.

Companies Setting the Ground for a Shorter Workweek

BeforeSunset AI can significantly shorten your work week by streamlining tasks and optimizing your workflow. By using it, you can prioritize and organize your assignments efficiently, ensuring you tackle the most critical tasks first. Its time tracking feature helps identify and eliminate time-wasting activities, allowing you to stay focused on productive work. And don’t forget to check out other blogs about working life!

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