How To Work Less and Be Merry (Especially If You’re Over 40)

Depending on where you live, there are certain societal conventions that many of us have come to internalize. As a kid, I really enjoyed watching Saturday morning cartoons, for example. But really, was there actually a reason why Sunday morning cartoons weren’t more of a “thing”? Or early Wednesday evening cartoons? Why is it, for example, that most students in Canada and the United States typically attend school from 9 o’clock in the morning until 3 o’clock in the afternoon, Monday through Friday?

Exceptions and variations exist, of course, but most of us have come to expect to see that as the “standard” schedule because that’s how it’s always been. Except it hasn’t always been that way. Just like how many students expect to have July and August off in the summer, but some schools operate year-round and other schools have different schedules for summer holidays too.

The exact same kind of standard expectation extends into our adult lives. By and large, we expect to work 40 hours each week, split into five shifts of eight hours each, working from Monday to Friday. We call it the 9-to-5, because that’s the typical expected schedule… except a lot of people don’t necessarily do the 9-to-5, Monday to Friday type deal. Maybe they work Sunday to Thursday. Maybe they work 10 hour shifts, four days a week. Maybe they pile on 60 hours or more to make ends meet or to stay top of mine when an opportunity for a promotion comes up.

Conform to the System?

But why? Especially if you end up spending several of those hours daydreaming about how you’d rather be spending your time. And if you do, you’re not alone. And as it turns out, research might be on your side about this whole “working less” idea.

A news article on Simplepost cited a recent study from the Melbourne Institute’s Working Paper Series. The study concluded that people over the age of 40 could be way better off if they shifted from a typical five-day work week to a three-day work week instead. They say that by working fewer days (and fewer hours) each week, these “older” workers would still be productive but they’d be less likely to burn out.

The study looked at over 6,000 Australians over the age of 40, getting the volunteers to perform a number of cognitive tasks. What they found is that as people worked more, their cognitive functioning improved, but only up to around 25 hours a week. Beyond that, cognitive functioning actually worsened. This means that working up to 25 hours a week is good for your brain. It keeps you sharp. After 25 hours, though, you likely suffer from fatigue and set yourself up for burnout.

Working a 40-hour work week is better than not working at all, in terms of cognitive performance, but working over 55 hours a week is actually worse than not working at all.

Working Less, Making More

You can see how this all relates back to the appeal of the dot com lifestyle. Remember that John originally set out on this journey to discover if he could make a full-time income from part-time blogging. Seeing how he’s raking in six figures a month, I’d say he has accomplished that mission.

Working less doesn’t necessarily mean your income has to take a hit. Instead, it’s about figuring out how to work smarter and deciphering how to get your business to keep generating money for you even when you’re not actively working at it. That’s the beauty of passive income.

So, while we may look up to the incredible hard work and dedication and innovation of amazing entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Casey Neistat, working excessive hours might not necessarily be in our best interest. You still have to work hard, of course, but you’ve got to give that brain of yours a break sometimes too.

Or, as John put it after partying hard with Gary Vaynerchuk at Affiliate Ball, what’s the use of “making a six-figure monthly income if you don’t have time to enjoy it?”

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