Nine to Five? More Like Seven to Seven!
Why you probably work more than 12 hours a day
How long is your normal workday? 8 hours? 9 hours?
Is it possible that you spend over 12 hours a day on your job?
A nine to five job should last from… well, nine to five, Monday to Friday. That’s eight hours a day. 40 hours per week.
Yet, the average UK employee works 42.7 hours a week which is the equal of eight hours and a half every day.
According to the OECD, an average worker in the UK worked 36.5 hours a week in 2016. It’s important to mention that this figure is a combination of hours worked by part-time and full-time workers.
In the United States, the figures are even higher. An average worker (both part-time and full-time) works 38.6 hours a week. Therefore it is safe to assume that an average American working a full-time job works over 45 hours a week. Indeed, CNN revealed a research that discovered that American full-time employees work an average of 47 hours a week.
(By the way, if you live in either South Korea, Turkey, Colombia or Mexico and have a full-time job then you probably work well above 50 hours a week.)
Please note that these stats reflect on those with one main job only.
According to the Office for National Statistics, in the UK alone, over one million people had a second job in 2017.
All these stats, collected from millions around the world, are interesting.
But they don’t tell the truth.
Allow me to explain why.
Working overtime and commuting
My friend, Roger, works as a data analyst for a big firm in California.
His contract states he must work 40 hours a week — from 9:30am to 5:30pm, Monday to Friday. To simplify the math, let’s change it to 9am to 5pm.
In a previous post, I mentioned that Roger always works overtime.
Luckily, in his office, there’s an automated system that keeps track of his working hours. We looked into his last month’s working hours. Here is what we found: Roger worked 46.7 hours a week on average.
On one occasion, he left work at lunchtime for a doctor’s appointment. Otherwise, he’d have exceeded the American average of 47 hours a week.
With that in mind, Roger’s average workday is from 9:00am to 6:30pm.
What about commuting?
In 2015, it took the average American 27 minutes to commute to work. That’s roughly an hour a day.
Unfortunately, commuting to work in California takes much longer. Roger spends over two hours commuting to and from work.
So his workday actually starts at 8am and finishes at 7:30pm.
The average American’s day begins at 8:30am and finishes at 7pm, though.
Wait! That’s not all.
How long do you spend getting ready for work?
Dressing up, packing a lunch box, doing your hair or make-up? According to YouGov, the majority spend between 11 and 30 minutes getting ready for work. That means the average American spends 20 minutes a day getting ready for work.
I asked Roger. He wakes up at 7am and says it takes him about 30 minutes to iron his shirt, put his suit on, tie his tie, polish his shoes and do his hair. That makes his workday officially starts at 07:30am.
Sadly, that is not all. Most of us spend quite some time working from home, usually by taking phone calls, texting or replying to emails.
Roger admits spending roughly 45 minutes on his phone when he is back from work, checking and answering emails. His workday ends at 8:15pm.
And what about traveling for work or working during the weekend?
Last year, Roger had traveled for work on six different occasions.
He spent time hours on planes and slept in hotels. That’s 24 hours a day spent on his job.
I did not even mention work events and conferences, out-of-office meetings/meals and mandatory office parties.
Roger’s average workday starts at 7:30am and finishes at 8:15pm.
When he realized he works 12 hours and 45 minutes a day or over 63 hours a week, he was shocked.
What can we do?
First and foremost, we start by calculating how much time we actually spend on our jobs. Think of your morning routine and your daily commute. Be aware of your overtime (paid or not) and the time you spend working from home.
You have to be honest with yourself. No excuses.
The best way to approach this is by comparing a normal workday to a weekend day.
For example, on a weekend day you would still eat breakfast and brush your teeth (I hope!), but you wouldn’t spend an hour commuting.
Once you are conscious of your working hours — you can start making some changes. Perhaps you’ll realize that you spend too much time commuting to work. Maybe, like my friend Roger, you would cut your overtime. After all, working too much is an unhealthy habit.
You might decide to make immediate changes and you might decide not to. This practice is not supposed to upset you, it’s all about gaining control of your working habits.
Please remember: your self-awareness is a tool to help you make a step forward and it doesn’t have to happen straight away.
What do I care? I am self-employed!
In the UK, over 26 percent of those who are self-employed work over 45 hours a week. Only 17.5 percent of employees work just as much.
As a self-employed worker, I must emphasize the importance of acknowledging the time we don’t usually consider as work.
Personally, whenever I send out an estimate for my work, I add that “extra” time I need to spend apart from my routine work.
I ask myself — will I need to commute somewhere? How long will it take? How long will I spend communicating with my client? Will I need to send emails and make many phone calls?
If I answer yes to any of these questions, I consider it work.
For example, I have a project that requires around 40 hours of work. I expect 10 hours of commuting and communication with my client. Therefore, I consider this project as 50 hours of work and charge accordingly.
And what about you?
Do you spend eight hours at the office and another two commuting there?
Do you spend time working from home?
How long are you expected to work and how long do you actually work?
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you want to do 👏