Quality, Quantity, and the Sixty Hour Work Week

Do you have to work sixty-plus hours per week to be successful?A past co-worker once asked whether I took work home with me. I told him no. He seemed flabbergasted. For him, taking work home was a sign of dedication and productivity. I didn’t agree. Taking work home with me indicated an inability to order my life in a healthy way and asked what I did with the hours I had available during the day. I know work sometimes extends past usual business hours, but if I arrange my work and prioritize tasks in a way that works for me, it shouldn’t have to follow me home very often.
I call my concept work hard to play hard, and it’s an idea that doesn’t root itself in traditional hours. It states that the work will take however much time it takes. It’s up to a person to decide how much time to dedicate to the work on a given day. It’s also up to that person to recognize how much time is needed. It’s an important recognition; one person may require more or less time than another. With that understanding, a person can determine the best way to approach his or her work. Some people prefer to finish the work early so that they can focus on other things. Others need the adrenaline rush of an impending deadline, so they play before working. Still others spread the work across multiple days or months. One way isn’t better than the other. It’s a matter of preference.

Unfortunately, most of those methods don’t agree with traditional work hours or work spaces. Such places ask people to clock in and out at regular hours. In some places, traditional hours make sense. Restaurants and retail stores wouldn’t last long without some sort of hourly basis for the work. Other jobs don’t need such strict hours. Architects, writers, artists, and engineers could easily work within non-traditional hours. As long as they complete their assignments and meet the deadlines given to them, why not let them work hours that are best suited to them? Why not let them tackle a project with all their energy rather than require them to focus on it for longer or shorter than they ought? Give people the ability to work hard to play hard, and, to borrow a line from C.C. Chapman, amazing things could happen.

When are you most productive? What do you think about the traditional workday or the subject of taking work home?

Photo: Ipiepiora (CC BY 2.0)


  1. I’ve never had a “traditional work day”, as I’ve never been anything other than self-employed. But I believe this: priority management is key. Define and complete what’s important. On occasion, that might require “extra” time. But “taking work home” is not an indicator of dedication and productivity. It’s an indicator of poor priority management. To quote our friend Bill @bdorman264 that.is.all. Cheers! Kaarina

    • KDillabough I’ve learned that I’m a person who enjoys self-direction and working ahead. Managing priorities is key with both those things. 🙂
      I also think it’s the way I was raised. I was taught to make the most of my time. Because of that, I rarely took homework home, and it’s probably one reason why I resist the notion of taking work home now.

  2. I find I go to work to meet with people, then I go home to work. How odd is that? 😉
    In all seriousness, I do find I get major projects done on the shoulder hours. And I don’t believe in a 40 hour work week by normal conventions…


  1. […] It’s easy to get lost in the daily grind: you get up, go through your morning routine, go to work, maybe take a lunch break, return to work, go home, have dinner, maybe relax with the family. Rinse and repeat for five days a week. It becomes normal, comfortable. It lulls you into a sense of safety and security. You forget to ask if your routine is the best one, although you sometimes wonder. You wonder if it’s the best way. You wonder if it’s the most productive way. […]