The 3 hour working week

How long is your working week? According to press reports, UK workers average 42 hours or more; according to the government they “don’t usually have to work more than 48 hours a week on average, unless they choose to.” There seem to be plenty who feel that they have to make that choice.

When I was first starting out in research, enjoying the libertarian delights of Copenhagen, a visiting Canadian researcher told me something I have held dear ever since. He insisted that careful study had shown that even the most diligent worker only achieves a maximum of half an hour’s really productive work each day. So his aim was to get in, clock up that 30 minutes as quickly as possible, and go home.

I was sceptical at first, but the more that I have thought about it, and examined my own work and that of other people, the more that I am convinced that he was right. Sure, we all have humdrum tasks that take longer, that keep us at the workplace for longer, but there are very few days in anyone’s working life that you achieve much more.

The bookshops and Internet are full of products claiming that they will reveal the secrets of success, for a fee. This is my completely free offering in that crowded market. Stop farting about updating software, browsing blogs, or tidying your desktop – get on and make those 30 minutes really count, and then go out for a good walk.

Sorry, I’ve got to stop there – that’s my lot for today, so I’m off to the garden.