If you run your own business or freelance from home, you likely run your work schedule in one of two ways: you work yourself to exhaustion each day, turning in only when work becomes a physical impossibility; or you discipline yourself to keep to a typical 40-hour workweek.
Both have their advantages—getting lots done versus taking care of yourself—but equally, they each overlook some important points about how the human mind, body and soul function (not to mention the economy).
The five-day week was introduced by motoring mogul Henry Ford more than 90 years ago, as a compromise between workers’ well-being and the industrial demands of the factory. At the time, it was seen as a humane gesture, which indeed it was. When you consider the previous conditions and the emergence of the Western world from the smog and shocking low life expectancies of the Industrial Revolution, working 9-to-5 feels like a treat.
But nearly a century later, it simply does not make rational sense to stick bone-headedly to ‘what we know.’ What we truly know is that working shorter hours can actually make you more productive: For example, nurses in a scientific trial who switched to six-hour days wound up taking half of the sick time taken by those working the full eight. In Germany, they work 600 hours per year less than in Greece, yet they have higher productivity. It seems that working shorter hours encourages us to focus and to work a little harder, leaving more time for rest and relaxation, which in turn makes us happier, healthier and more productive workers.
For more information about why we should work fewer hours, check out the infographic below, which notes 18 science-backed benefits of a shorter workweek.