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How Many Hours Do You Work Per Week?

How many hours per week do you put in trying to feed your family and keep that roof over your head? Are you one of those people who spends every waking moment at work? Or are you more apt to put in only the bare minimum to get the job done? Americans, on average, work way more hours than people in other industrialized nations while taking much less vacation time. This hasn’t necessarily led to more productivity at all; in fact, it may be one of the reasons we also have one of the biggest populations of people taking daily antidepressants. A few years ago I decided that I no longer wanted to trade my time for a paycheck deemed “enough” by a corporation, so I went out on my own. And since then, I have been concentrating on doing more in less time, leaving more leisure time open for me in this incredibly short time we all have here on earth. While taken to the extreme, the idea of the 4 Hour Workweek is something I am striving towards – and I am slowly getting there. Of course, getting it down to 4 hours a week will never happen for me because I have more than 4 hours of actual work to do each week, but I have a goal of cutting my working hours down to about 15-20 per week MAX and using the rest of my time to actually live a life.

Now, I could work more and thus make more money. But I haven’t ever been interested in amassing a fortune or even living high on the hog. I am comfortable, my debts are paid, I eat every day, I have transportation, and I have some money for a rainy day. To the people outside of most industrialized nations, I am rich beyond their wildest dreams – and I know this. I am very lucky to have everything I do have and to be born in a place that gave me the chances to have it. But as I get older, I refuse to let a desire for money and “stuff” to make me work more and more hours, trading time in my life just for a few more dollar bills in the bank. Some people feel the opposite way – that by working more now they can have a more leisurely life later on. One of my friends works his a** off as a lawyer, putting in 100+ hours per week. It works for him, as he has plans for what to do after 10 years of doing this. It wouldn’t work for me, however, as I don’t want to have to wait to live the life I want to!

So my question to you guys is – how many hours do you work per week? A lot? A little? Just enough? Do you like what you are trading your time for? Or do you hate your job and need something different? What’s your plan for living the life you want to live?

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Comments (23)

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  1. I work about 60 hours a week at my full-time job and 10 hours a week with my hobby job. I would love to get to the point where my debts are paid off and I can choose the lifestyle that I want to live.

    I don’t feel like I can make that choice now since I am still paying off my law school loans. But, I can’t wait for the day that I can be free to choose.

  2. Ron says:

    I work a minimum of 50 hours/week but when I’m out of town (50% of the time) that number balloons up to 70+. Then you add in my writing gig — another 15 hours or so.

    I heard on the radio that US doctors wrote more than 200 MILLION prescriptions for anti depressants in 2007 alone (last year numbers were available). But that same year, the USA led the world in productivity (http://www.ilo.org/global/About_the_ILO/Media_and_public_information/Press_releases/lang–en/WCMS_083976/index.htm).

    The real question is, how much of the time spent “at work” is really work? In the US a great deal of what we call “work” is actually an outward, social display of Long Hours Heroism. It’s basically just a lot of preening in front of others. After all, your social status perks up if you can spend 70 hours at the office each week.

  3. Sam says:

    At work – I work 42 on average (we’re not supposed to get overtime). However, there’s probably 10 hours off the clock in there related to work in some way. I love what I do & I think that’s part of the my problem.
    I don’t check work email from home just to keep it to a minimum.

    If I was debt free or won the lottery I’d still do what I do however, I wouldn’t worry about doing things that could get me in trouble as much. I’m more of a “for the greater good” then “follow the job description” type of person.

  4. Annie Jones says:

    As a homemaker, I either work all the time or don’t work at all, depending on who you ask. In addition to the typical cooking and cleaning, my job is to keep family costs down and take care of appointments so that my husband doesn’t have to miss work to do those things. I try to have most of my work done by the time he gets home so that we “keep the same hours” and enjoy our leisure time together.

    My husband is a construction worker. He’s just returned to work this week after an 8-week layoff, but typically he works a solid 40-hour week. On a rush job, he may work as much as 50 or 60 hours a week. Over the course of the year, it averages out to about 40-45 hours a week.

    He never “volunteers” any of his time to his company; in other words, he never works for free. When he leaves the job in the afternoon, he’s done for the day…the nature of his job is that there is never any work to bring home. Also, because he’s in a union, anything over 8 hours a day is paid at overtime rates, regardless if he gets in a full 40 hours for the week.

  5. Tyler says:

    I work 40 hours a week, not counting my lunch hour (which is unpaid).

    As I work on a Federal government contract, I must record my time down to a tenth of an hour, and overtime is available only for specific periods of the year, so I don’t provide any “free” time at work. We have flex scheduling, so if I must work extra some days, I just leave early Friday.

  6. Ted says:

    My sales job is seasonal so during peak time, I put in close to 50 hours. During conventions or trade shows, It will be 10+ hour days for a few weeks straight. But that means in the offseason I can put in 20-30. I try to cap myself at 40 average on the year. I can get sucked into work and blow that out, so I try to keep that cap solid.

  7. It depends on how you count, which is certainly also the case for Tim Ferris. I work about 3-4 hours a week on direct income. Given that I don’t really need too (I am financially independent) this is about the most I’d really want to. Fairly early, I made the decision whether to work for money or have money work for me and I chose the latter. The modern work schedule is crazy. In comparison, hunter gatherers work about 15 hours a week to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads.

  8. Melissa says:

    I work anywhere between 40 and 60 hours per week, depending on what’s going on. My philosphy is that I don’t have hours, I have responsibilities and I do what I need to do to get those done (be it working late at the office or taking care of things from home). However, in weeks that those responsibilities may require less than 40 hours, I’m still here 40 hours…work culture, etc.

  9. Andy Hough says:

    I currently work about 25 hours a week at my job plus 5-10 hours on my websites. Next week is my last week at work and then I’ll hiking for 5 months and then I’ll be working 0 hours a week. My plan is for my websites to earn enough to cover my hiking expenses. We’ll see if it works.

  10. Sarah says:

    Right now I work 40-45 hours per week at my regular job. In the past I have done some freelance marketing and/or website work but not much any more. I like my job okay but I’d rather be taking care of the home stuff and kids so that my husband doesn’t have to take off as much. As it is now, he makes twice the money I do but has flexible hours, is able to work from home, and the employer is a family guy that expects everyone to put their family first. My job is nothing like that.

    There are 2 times per year that I work extra hours but I am salaried so instead of overtime I get comp time. I am able to use the extra hours worked for time off later.

  11. [...] How Many Hours Do You Work Per Week? | My Two Dollars [...]

  12. Riaz says:

    I work about 40 hours a week at a pretty standard job, however this job is only temporary. I should start another job this summer that will be salaried, and the employer expects most employees to work much more than 40 hours. And you know what…I’m OK with that.

    Why?

    Because most people aren’t chasing down big cars and high tech gadgets. They are working more than ever (if they even have the opportunity) just to eat, have a rainy day fund, pay down debt (like me), etc. I wish we lived in a world where most people had enough for basic necessities, and we simply had to convince them to slow down a bit. But the reality is that we don’t.

  13. My advice–

    If salaried, spend as few hours at work as possible. Spend as much free time as you can afford developing a second business.

    Do this till you can make your second business your primary job. Quit your first job and work as much (or as little) as you want.

    I know this is oversimplified, but its the track that I am currently on

  14. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by mytwodollars: New blog post: How Many Hours Do You Work Per Week? http://www.mytwodollars.com/2010/02/18/how-many-hours-do-you-work-per-week/

  15. RJ Weiss says:

    I’m around 40-50 hours per work, spread over into Saturday morning.

    This is just right for me. I never getting burnt out.

  16. Laura says:

    I’m similar to the first couple commenters… I work a ton, 32hrs at one job, about 30 on another, and I’m constantly picking up other side things here and there. I’m not good with free time.

    Lucky I love my job and part of why I work so much is because I want to help and can’t resist. (I’m in the education realm.)

    I do need to focus, like you have on doing more in less…Thanks for the reminder!

  17. [...] 40 years of my life working just to buy stuff seems a bit extreme to me. Yet working that much is the norm in the US. It is so ubiquitous that spending all day away from home does not factor [...]

  18. Lee says:

    I’m retired so the only time I work is when my wife says “Are you going to set around all day, get up and do something”?.

  19. Jessica says:

    I work about 12-20 hours outside the home. Then about 5 hours from home on my websites. So still only part time. My husband works full time plus some overtime. I’m able to take care of him and also have time for hobbies and leisure. And this is why we are still married :)

  20. Bilal says:

    well, i work 40-45 hours at night, 212 dollars a month.

  21. Employee says:

    I work 50 hours a week and my cousin works 60 to 70 hours a week most of the time [we are in same company]. I have hospital bills and credit cards bills to pay and on top of that rent/food. they will be hopefully paid off in 2014 and i have a wife and we are planning to have kids too. My life is sucks i don’t get enough sleep but i have no choice i don’t like the job i do but it is a better paying job than i would every get.

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