flowing motion

4 hour work week?

Posted on: December 9, 2008

Time management & goal setting from the masters

On Sunday night, Barack Obama put some numbers to Harold Macmillan‘s pithy saying: Events, dear boy, events. Obama’s numbers are 10% agenda and 90% circumstances.

What if we combine Obama’s numbers with Thomas Edison’s: genius is 1% inspiration and 90% perspiration?

90%
Circumstances
0,9% 89,1%
10% Agenda 0,1% 9,9%

 

 

1%
Inspiration
99%
Perspiration

Obama x Edison


4 hour work week

I’m a great believer in Kurt Lewin‘s adage: that there is nothing as practical as a good theory.  Principles, values and strategies established prior to action help me, at any rate,  keep perspective, and rapidly re-evaluate my tactics as events unfold.  In the army, they say, a plan never survives meeting the enemyThe value of the plan is in the planning, when we front-load the facts, issues and principles that will help us react quickly.

So at 9.9% of a 7 hour day, maybe 40 minutes will be spent on thoughtful and assiduous planning at the beginning of the day, and doing work that we actually planned! A 4 hour work week?

In the past, we’ve always been advised to plan only for only 60% of time.  That is about 4.5 hours per day!  The remaind 40% of the day, or 3.5 hours is used for unfolding events!

How much has your working life changed in the last few years towards a 4 hour work week – 4 hours of planned work?

What is true for politicians is true for professors, writers and musicians too!

Interestingly, work on high performing academics and violin players produce similar figures.  Violin players spend the whole day on music but about 1 hour on thoughtful and deliberate practice.

High performing academics, who typically produce 7x what their peers produce, write daily, but in approximately 15 minute snatches, and rarely for more than 1.5 hours.  Typically, they write early in the morning, before their households or departements get noisy.  They spend the rest of the day reacting to emails, student enquiries, going to the gym, and taking walks and sometimes even naps!

You have 45 minutes a day that you can spend on programmed work?   How should you spend this time?

As I write this, I am considering what to spend my 40 minutes on.  Having launched Rooi a few months back, I am moving into a project management phase.  So, I suppose, my 40 minutes should be spent on a review of projects and their priorities.   That feels right!

Out comes the calendar: time to do a ‘don’t break the chain exercise’.  What time of day will I spend reviewing projects and priorities?  Where will I do this work?   How will I get in the habit?  Can I put a small card in my purse and cross off each day and ‘never break the chain’?

How do you distribute your time?

What is the essential task that you do before all else, everyday?

Check out Ned’s comment below.  Do what has to be done first thing in the morning. Then if the rest of day turns to anarchy, who cares!

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2 Responses to "4 hour work week?"

Wrong place, I know… deleted your comment by mistake and didn’t want to be thought of as rude…

The innovation? In a phrase?

That I, the journalist, have now stepped into my community’s conversation.

That tables have turned.

That actually all I do is act as a spark to the conversation of others; that I have to listen and respond to their ‘backchat’…

Time management has been a topic that keeps coming up recently. It appears to me that I am doing a lot, but not getting anything done.

Perhaps I’ll try just managing that one hour in the early morning. Just get done whatever it is I need to get done. Then if the rest of the day turns to anarchy, I can at least go to sleep that night with a sense of completion.

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