The Worst Part of Being Able to Do 40 Hours’ Work in 10

By about 10:30am every day, I would be done with pretty much all of the day’s work.

I was working a full-time 9–5 schedule, but that was way too much time. The combination of being a fast worker and having a small workload left me with a few options when I inevitably finished my entire day’s work well before lunch:

  • Make more work for myself
  • Do tomorrow’s work early (but then what would I do tomorrow?)
  • Sit quietly as I watched my inbox, hoping for more work to come through
  • Sit quietly.

I know! I know. People would kill for this job. But there are several downsides of being able to finish your 40 hour workweek in like, 10 hours that you haven’t considered.

I was so, so bored.

A lot of people want a job like that — easy workload, lots of time to relax and seeing what Kylie Jenner is up to on Snapchat.

That’s what I thought, too. (Not the Kylie Jenner part, I’m fairly ambivalent about her latest makeup line). But the boredom was exhausting. I was leaving work feeling more exhausted than when I got there. Was this the goal? To have a job that essentially made 10 hours of my day — the hour commute to-and-from, plus the 8 hours in between — a blur?

Life wasn’t exciting. It was dull waste of my potential. I realized my career shouldn’t revolve around getting that job where I “don’t have to work;” my career would serve me far better if I was actually interested in what I was doing. Sure, I could have asked for more work and filled up the 40 hours, but I was in a role where I was looking at Excel sheets and checking emails all day — not fun. Not, at, all.

At first, those extra 6 hours a day to relax are..well, relaxing.

But after a month, I dreaded those long periods of nothingness. I craved work, even busywork (can’t believe I just wrote that) because at least I would have had something to do.

The Wasted Potential

Do you know what I could be? What I could become, if I wanted to?

  • A millionaire
  • A fitness expert
  • A small business owner
  • A polyglot
  • Professional blogger
  • Keynote speaker
  • …other things

Do you know what I was practicing to be as I finished 40 hours of work in 10 hours? A lazy bum.

Now that I’ve started my own business helping 20-and-30somethings leave work they hate and find meaningful work, there’s a lot to do. I need to keep myself disciplined and wake up early to write articles and work on my coaching clients’ homework they’ve submitted. I need to read a lot of books and articles, be creative, be hardworking, and do a lot of tasks that probably won’t have any immediate ROI.

If you become lazy at your 9–5 job, you usually become lazy with other things, like developing a side-business. How can you expect to shirk work for 8 hours a day, and then become Mr. Productivity when you get home? It doesn’t work like that. You are what you do, and I was doing not-a-lot while at work.

Key realization

Whatever percent of my week I actually spend doing work — which is about 25% — is spent on things I don’t care about. Worse still, I’m not learning anything. I’m not getting smarter, not learning new skills.

“So,” I asked myself —” why can’t I spend 40 hours spent solely on tasks I love doing and teach me new skills?”

If I went that route, that would mean I would see an immediate increase in productivity and action on projects I really care about of about 400%. I would go from spending about 2–3 hours a day working on projects I’m forced to care about, to spending 40 hours a week (or however many hours I want) on projects I love to do, learning new skills, and developing myself.

That was a key reason I quit my 9–5 job. I realized that as “nice” and easy finishing my work before lunch every day felt, I was really limiting my potential and opting to have a cushy office job instead of learning fascinating new skills and doing work I love to do.

That was the worst part about being able to finish my day before lunch. It was nice at first, but after you realize you’ve developed nasty habits of being lazy, bored, and complacent at work…it’s difficult to reverse those behaviors, especially when you really need to be productive.

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  1. Kevin Hoelscher says:

    I would never want a 9-5 job personally, I’m an early riser, these days I usually start work at about 6:45. Feels so much better getting in that early, and missing a lot of the traffic. My job never has any down time given that I’m a consultant. Once my work is done, I fill out my time sheet and get the heck outta there!

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