How Many Hours Should You Work Per Week

- | 46 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Jobs & Education

Man showing work hours in a week on clock

How many hours should you work per week? Should it be 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, or 60? This question has been  talked about a lot in recent years.

Should you have a three-day workweek, or does a 5-day workweek work fine for you? How many work hours do you prefer in a day?

Another related question is whether it is better to work from office or work from home!

I know these questions may not matter for some people, especially for those who are workaholics or the Type A personalities.

Such people are always hungry for more work and they would keep working from wherever they are located and whenever they can!

Some people who probably have less liabilities may want to work less, whereas those who need to earn more might work even for extra hours.

It eventually comes to what makes you content and happy. Since the concept of happiness is different for everyone, the choice of work hours in a day would vary from person to person.

However, seriously, the amount of hours that you spend on your work and its timings affects your life and your productivity too.

If you’re going to work non-stop without a break or regularly extend it into the nights, you may have difficulty dealing with the work stress, suffer from weariness of your mind and body, and not be able to give full time to your family or loved ones.

So, how do you decide what is right for you?

Here’s what you need to do. First review the terms that you use, see what’s going around in the world, what are the things that people suggest, and choose the work schedule that works best for you.

DO READ: 6 Time Saving Tips To Avoid Being Overworked

What are Work Hours

Work hours are the business hours, which are the hours of the day that you spend in doing work or business.

Basically, work hours are used in an organization so that not only the organizational or business work gets done, but the worker also gets to balance their responsibilities at work and home, and are able to strike a balance between work and life.

So, setting the work hours in a day is all about creating the right work-life balance, right? And why not, as it is really very important.

To facilitate the work-life balance, organizations and countries have working time regulations that decide the working hours for a worker in a day.

Generally, nowadays most organizations and countries follow an 8-hour workday schedule, or a 9 to 5 job.

But did you know that once most countries, including America, had more than 10-hour workdays?

If you view this Wikipedia article, you’ll come to know that the working hours and work timings vary in countries across the world, and these change as per the geographic conditions of the place and the religious requirements.

Man working at flexible work hours in a week

Flexible Work Hours

However, the work hours, instead of being fixed, can be flexible to facilitate the work-life balance in a better way.

Well, even if you’re self-employed, it helps if you define your working hours.

Most of those who work from home follow flexible work hours. They do not have a fixed working time, unless they enforce one on themselves.

It’s a lifestyle choice made by employees too. Many companies allow their workers to opt for flexible hours for either working in the company office or from their own homes.

One good thing that work-from-home does is lessens the employee’s commute time and trouble. Of course, how can you forget this factor when there are people who spend up to 3-4 hours commuting only!

Importantly enough, flexible hours or working from home even reduces the traffic during rush hours for workers.

This news story tells you about a study that shows employees working at flexible hours are generally happier.

Now that you know what work hours are, how many hours would you work per week?

MUST READ: How To Lead A Good Life And Be Happy

What is a Workweek

Simple. A workweek is the total number of hours or days regularly worked in a week.

There are seven days in a week, but you generally work for 5 or 6 days per week. Actually, there used to be 6-day workweek until the early 20th century, when America started the trend of 5-day workweek.

Some companies and countries around the world still follow the 6-day workweek.

Did you know that once the French had ten-day weeks and a 9-day workweek? Thankfully, that did not pick up as a trend.

5-day workweek was started to cater to the Jewish and Christian workers. They wanted holidays on Saturday and Sunday respectively, for Sabbath, the day for rest and worship.

Muslims have their rest day on Friday, and most Muslim countries have weekends on Thursday-Friday or Friday-Saturday, as per the recent change to go with the rest of the world.

If you work for 8 hours a day and follow a 5-day workweek, then you work for 40 work week hours. In case you have a 6-day workweek, it becomes 48 work hours in a week.

Many countries including the European Union, Britain, and Singapore, presently sets the maximum weekly working hours as 48 hours. The French have a 35-hour workweek.

Of course, the workers have a choice to work extra and the other sectors can have their own specific work time regulations.

Less Work Days And Work Hours Per Week

Up until the 20th century, companies and industries lured people into working for more hours. The temptation was that they would earn more money and be able to buy more commodities.

The possession of commodities and money was linked to achieving happiness in life.

Therefore, people preferred to work more, but eventually had little time for their families or even for their own selves.

The concept of personal development was based on only one criterion – professional development. Isn’t this what most people still try to follow?

Most people are still clueless what really brings happiness into their life. Money and commodities are not the only factors, obviously.

It is important that you spend quality time with your family and have time for working towards your personal growth.

Unless you learn to understand yourself, be content, and control your mind, you cannot achieve real and long-term happiness.

A simplistic lifestyle and a minimalistic approach to life will certainly help you bring more happiness to your life.

Today, there is a gradual decrease in the number of average working hours per week, mostly in the developed countries.

The average hours worked in a week is 33 in the U.S., 30 in France, 27 in Netherlands, and 25.6 in Germany.

The factors that facilitated the lowering of average working hours and raised the standard of living are:

  • Increased use of technology at work
  • Increase participation of women as income earners in the family
  • Lesser number of children, so fewer hours are needed to support children
  • More paid leave days

You can earn more if you and your spouse, both earn and work at flexible hours or work from home. In this way, you save more while working for less hours and are more with the family to gain more happiness.

If you work for lesser days per week, you eventually save the world from more problems.

There will be lower rate of unemployment, lower carbon emissions, higher levels of well-being, and lower conflicts because of more quality time for family and self.

But it’s sad that some people need to work more, else they don’t earn enough and can’t support their families.

A working man with family

Four-day Workweek

A 4-day workweek is being followed in various states of America. Many schools extend their daily timings and government offices adopt the 10-work-hour day from Monday to Thursday, so as to remain off for a 3-day long weekend, including Friday.

This way, they not only save on the trouble of commuting and enjoy an extra holiday, but also save on the costs of electricity and gasoline.

Three-day Workweek

Some of the world’s top business leaders like Carlos Slim and Richard Branson have come up with a 3-day workweek model.

In this model, employees can work for 11 hours a day for three days and then have a four-day long weekend!

Would you be more productive and happier if you worked for only three days a week?

Well, this model may not be practical at many places and in many countries.

But if I were a salaried employee and got an offer from an organization with this work week hour model, I’ll just go for it!

In the end, what a company eventually wants is better productivity in terms of quality and speed. Of course, this is directly proportional to the employee’s productivity.

And, employees will be more productive when they are happier. Some would say employees are more productive when they’re pressurized and controlled. What do you say?

The 4-Hour Workweek And 2-Hour Workday

Lastly, how can we not include the 2007 bestseller self-help book by Timothy Ferriss, “The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich.

In his book, Tim emphasizes on lifestyle development by applying the Pareto principle or the 80-20 rule and company automation.

He promotes telecommuting and outsourcing of work to free up personal time.

Though this book inspired many entrepreneurs, but one entrepreneur and blogger launched his own course called “The 2-Hour Workday” to achieve a laptop lifestyle and freedom in life.

He is Yaro Starak and you can read more about his course in his interview on Aha!NOW.

How Many Hours Should You Work Per Week

Here I’m wrapping up this post by asking you this question.

What is your sweet spot for the work week hours? How much work is really good enough for you to lead a happy life?

I’d echo what most people recommend: at the most a 40-hour workweek, or working for 8 hours a day for 5 days a week for a good work-life balance.

It was during the Industrial revolution in Britain that people began demanding an 8-hour workday.  Their slogan was 8 hours for work, 8 hours for recreation, 8 hours for rest. That sums it up.

Do you want to work harder or smarter? Remember that you may work for fewer hours but earn even more if you make smart work choices and adopt the right methods or the right lifestyle.

Read this post, where Chris demonstrates using interesting illustrations that if you work for 35 hours a week, you can be most productive.

Anything above 40 work week hours will not help much if you’re a family person and consider happiness to be an all-round concept, rather than just depending on money or your income. This post attests the suggestion.

It’s not about how much you can work, it’s about how many hours you should put in to your work. Of course, you can slog for 60+ hours a week, but you should not.

I know you would say some people have to because they have no other option. Even then, such a practice can’t work for long and becomes counterproductive after sometime.

It’s wise to try to lessen your expenses, than to reduce your happiness by working for extra long hours.

I’ve special concern for bloggers, Internet marketers, and all those who work-from-home, because I’m one of them.

Most of us tend to cross the limit and work endlessly to be successful and earn more money.

We all need to really think and define how many hours we need to work per day and per week. We need to make sure that we give enough time to our family, our health, and for our personal growth.

This is because your aim of life is not to have bounty full of money, but boundless happiness.

Share Your Thoughts:

What are your work hours per day? How many days per week do you work? Have you given flexible work hours and work-from-home a chance? What was your experience and result? Do you believe less work can eventually bring you more happiness?

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos

Show Comments

46 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Vinayak

    2016-08-30 at 11:57 am

    Hi Vinay Sir,

    At times when you want to achieve something and are very passionate about your work. you have a guilt feeling taking a break from work. It however is really imperative to limit yourselves to working too much else it leads to burnout. Work life balance is a must and I’ve learnt it the hard way an its too late now. However, I’m willing to give it a fresh start.

    Thanks for such a nice article!

  2. Rob

    2016-03-13 at 9:52 pm

    This is a great article! I’ve actually read that the most successful companies seem to encourage just UNDER 40 hour weeks. Of course, for your own productivity you must decide what works. Awesome article and thanks for sharing!

  3. Bartosz

    2015-09-09 at 6:31 pm

    Very good article Vinay, thank you!

    Generally I agree with you that anything over 40 h per week won;t be very productive. Although, there is one trick I’m using and I would recommend to others – try to gamify your duties and the dull stuff you must do.
    It makes the entire process of working much more pleasant!

  4. Abrar Mohi Shafee

    2014-12-13 at 10:38 pm

    Hi Vinay,

    Thanks for an excellent post.

    Actually I work online at least 10 hours a day. Where it stands 70 hours after a week (no weekends 🙁 ).

    I think, I’ve to limit it otherwise there might be some health related issues. What do you say, which is the best working hour on computer a day?


    2014-09-30 at 9:50 pm

    Hi there, I was having this doubt since ages, now i got clarified. Really a nice post taught me about managing time and work hours, Thank you.

  6. Oloyede Jamiu

    2014-09-30 at 2:09 pm

    Hi Vinay,

    Thank you for releasing this post.

    I love reading it.

    Actually i work 5 hours daily on my internet business.

    Oloyede Jamiu

  7. Reginald

    2014-09-13 at 10:26 pm

    Hey Vinay,

    Thanks for sharing this. I think you have great points here and for me, I would suggest around 8 hours a day. I usually work over 12 hours a day though!

    Just my 2 cents and appreciate the write. Have a great weekend both!

  8. Harshajyoti Das

    2014-09-06 at 7:02 pm

    I am really lucky to have this life. I work for 3-4 hours per day. So it will be around 21-28 hrs per week. Rest of the time, I spend reading, cooking, brainstorming ideas, watching TV, and playing with my wife. Playing? hell yeah.. We play board games to video games together. Life is fun and is a blessing.

    I do understand that I can’t reach a 4 hour work week because I need to write everyday.

    It makes me sad to see some people working 12 hours a day and spending less than an hour with their family. You call it a life? I better give up on 90% of my income if I can live a happy and a simple life. Actually I did give up on 90% of my income since Nov 2013. I stopped taking new consultancy clients and became a full-time author.

    Everything is in our hands. We need a little bit of courage to change our life.

    • Harshajyoti Das

      2017-06-23 at 4:52 pm

      Fast forward 3 years, I realized how big of a fool I was to give up on cash flow. Well, you learn as you grow older. I wish I had worked a little more during 2013-2014. I saw some very bad days after Nov 2013 when I gave up on cash flow. I wish I can take a time-machine to go back in time and slap my younger self. Cash flow is a blessing. Work your ass off if you have to. I am now working 18 hours a day and I enjoy every moment of it.

  9. Lawrence Berry

    2014-09-03 at 10:05 am


    Wow, good post. I have been working so hard and I haven’t even sat to think about how much I work, but it’s a lot. I think there is a difference between just working to work and working to have a better future. I would say I put in over 40 hours a week of working when I combine my job, blogging, and studying for medical school. I work so hard now because I am still young (22) and want to get to a point where I have a good enough income to spend time with my family and do the adventurous things in life. I am a workaholic now, but it’s only so I can have the time I want later in life. I would rather work hard in my youthful years (before 30) and live out my life the way I want after then, because I worked hard to set a foundation for myself. As you get older, less work is better. Set a foundation and good habits while young, so you don’t have to work so much when you are older. Good post! Thanks for sharing!


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How Many Hours Should You Work Per Week

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