1. Restructure your day and break bad work habits.
Are you working too many empty hours? Could/should a 50-hour workweek really be a 40-hour week? Many workers work hard, but not smart. I definitely fell into this category when I was working. If I only knew working less was a matter of breaking some bad work habits. Actually, for me, it was substituting one addiction for another. If you are the first one in and the last one out every day (yup that was me most days), something might be wrong. Try to create a personal deadline to force yourself out of the office. Maybe schedule a 5:30 dinner date or class at the gym so you have to leave the office on time. This one was always tough for me, I was usually late for the appointment after work. Maybe you need to find ways to eliminate distractions to use your time in the office more efficiently. My biggest distraction was my need to fix, manage and control situations.
2. If you want to work fewer than 40 hours, know your company.
Does your company allow for it? How will it effect your future goals in the company or in life? There are still places where working less means no or slow promotions. Are okay with that? Then there are those businesses who love to spend less money on employees who can give them more bang for their buck. In those companies, scaling back is not necessarily a career killer—as long as you make an impact. If you work fewer hours but give your all and make a contribution to the bottom line, you will always be seen as a valuable player. So part of the strategy for working less is being strategic and performing at your best, whether you’re working 40 hours a week or 20.
3. Can you afford to work fewer than 40 hours? If so, make a plan.
Are you prepared for this financially? Usually the main reasons to work is to earn a living and pay bills. The doors open wide when you live below your means. If you quit your job or scale back your hours, would you be able to make it? If not, make a plan to get to the point where you don’t have to work so much. Trim your expenses and save, save, save! I was a paycheck to paycheck person. I was definitely not ready to work less than 40 hours per week or leave a salaried job. No plan, just dove in leaving a great job due to health issues “assuming” someone would want to hire me closer to home at less hours. A story for another time. LOL.
4. If you want to work fewer than 40 hours, ask yourself if it is time to switch careers.
This option would be a long-term solution—a higher-paying job down the road for fewer hours than you work now. Ask yourself, “What opportunity would allow me to earn more for my time?” Lots of people transition into new lines of work – direct sales. One good thing of a forced transition is the opportunity to reevaluate your options. A different career path could dramatically increase your income while demanding less of your time. You may need time to prepare or train, but it can be a smart, long-term solution. This may be awesome for someone thinking of starting a family who doesn’t want to work long hours as a parent. Think ahead and plan for a transition to working less.
I challenge you to dream big. It’s possible to work less in your future and maintain a happy life. Ask yourself these basic questions:
- What would it look like for you to work less?
- Does this idea appeal to you? Why or why not?
- If you’d like to make it happen, what is your vision for it?