The standard 40-hour workweek is outdated. Although far better than any previous standard, many workers are coming to realize that it no longer works with modern life.
The forty-hour work week was great for those who had a partner at home taking care of the house and kids. However, in today’s world, both partners typically work, leaving precious little time for housework and chores and less for hobbies and self-care.
While scrolling through the popular R/askreddit community, I found a user seeking help managing life while working long hours. “How do you work 40+ hours per week without dying?” the perplexed user asked.
Redditors came through. Some offered advice for making work time bearable, while others shared the things that motivate them to keep going. Most agreed that they’d prefer a shorter work week, but since they don’t see that happening, they try to make the best of what they’ve got.
Here are some of the top responses.
Many users said that time flies when you’re doing stuff. Actively engaging in the work, mentally or physically, makes it go faster.
Users from a wide variety of career fields agreed with this answer.
“I worked in construction for a summer, and as long as I was busy, time flew by,” shared one.
“As a programmer, this rings especially true. I’ll go through trial and error, brainstorming solutions, and next thing you know, it’s been an hour and a half,” replied another.
Keeping engaged is vital to making the day go quickly.
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Enjoying the Job
Working 40 hours a week at a job you hate is incredibly draining. Some said it’s not as bad when you enjoy the work.
“Finally getting a job I didn’t hate was such a huge game changer,” shared one user. “I used to get panic attacks before work. Now I don’t even think twice, and sometimes look forward to it!”
You don’t have to love your job, but not hating makes the 40+ hours you spend there tolerable.
Many said they deal with it because they have to. The job gives them the money they desperately need to survive.
Our options are limited. We can spend the bulk of our time working jobs we don’t like, or we can not work and starve.
The choice is clear when put in those terms.
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Working from Home
The new shift to remote work makes it much easier to log those 40 hours. Now, employees only need to put in the exact forty hours rather than dedicate time to commuting, getting ready, and unpaid breaks.
While working from home, workers can use their break time to meal prep, and use that few seconds of downtime to change out the laundry, freeing up even more of their after-work time to do what they please.
It’s the best of both worlds for employees, so we hope to see even more remote work opportunities in the future.
Having a Reason
Many users said providing their children a better life gives them the motivation they need to keep toiling.
“For my daughter. I don’t EVER want her to have the childhood I had,” shared one user.
They said that they wanted to ensure their daughter has a safe environment to grow up in and food in her belly, and they can do that by working 40+ hours per week.
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Knowing Key Tasks
One user shared a helpful tip for getting through work each day. “Learn what tasks need your full effort and which you can just “mail-in,” they advised.
Not every task you’re assigned is essential. If you struggle to maintain productivity for 8 hours straight, try giving your all to the critical tasks while putting off the less vital work for later. Get the important things done while you have the energy, and follow through with everything else towards the end of the day.
Many of us work on autopilot. We get up, get ready, go to work, come home, have dinner, go to bed, rinse, and repeat, day in and day out.
You get used to it. The days all run together until one day you wake up and 30 years have passed.
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It’s nearly impossible to work 8 hours straight without a break. Those who cope with long work days often break it up.
Take a walk, rest your eyes, and grab lunch or coffee. Walk away from work for a few minutes to clear your mind and refocus.
These breaks are often essential to making it through an entire workday.
Taking Care of Your Physical Health
Staring at a computer all day is draining and doesn’t do your body any good. One user said that making time for physical activity and exercise gave them the added energy boost they needed to work long hours.
“When I worked 55 hours a week, I was also going to the gym 4-5 days a week. I was in the best shape of my life,” shared one user.
“ I work 60-hour weeks some weeks, and it doesn’t really feel any different than the weeks I only do 35, but I start almost every day in my work’s gym for an hour,” added another.
It’s not as easy as it seems. Others said that they don’t have the time or energy to work out after work and chores.
Life Outside Work
Many users shared that life outside work is critical to pushing through at work. Engaging in hobbies, hanging out with friends, and doing things you enjoy in your free time help make the long hours at work worthwhile.
Make time for yourself, despite the long hours. Try a new hobby, make a point to get out with your friends, or take a weekend off for a short trip.
Giving your life meaning outside work makes those hours bearable.
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How Do You Get Through the Work Week?
The tips in this thread can help almost anyone trudge through a long workweek. Do any of them speak to you?
Do you agree that a shorter work week would be better for people and society, or is the forty-hour week the right balance?
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.