The Truth About The 40 Hour Workweek


There is a common school of thought that if you want to “get rich”, you must work a longer than 40 hour workweek. Of course there is another school of thought, popularized by Tim Ferriss, that working a 40 hour workweek is stupid and that you can “get rich” working far less hours per week.

Who’s right?

They both are.

Yes, if you are starting a brand new business or career, you are certainly going to have to put some time in where you are working not only 40, 50, 60, 70, or even more hours per week. There’s no question about that. When I started by first full-time business at age 24, working 70 hours a week was quite normal for me, and it was like that for at least two full years. The same thing happened when I was working hard to expand my business in my late 20s.

Today, many years later, I run three companies, make a decent income, and work seven days a week most weeks However, my average total work hours per week is around 30 in a typical week. There are certainly weeks where I work more than 40 hours, but those are now the exception rather than the norm.

So while you will have to put in some long weeks during the formative phases of a new business, job, or career, working more than 40 hours a week for the “rest of your life” is insane. If you’ve been working more than 40 hours a week for more than three years straight, in all likelihood something is very wrong in your life.

Your work is extremely important, but there are other things in your life that are also important. Love, relationships, physical health and fitness, hobbies, spirituality, children, family, all of these things will suffer if you’re working a 40+ hour week for more than three years or so.

Yes, yes, there are always unusual exceptions to the rule. I know a middle-aged woman in New York who has never been married, never wants to be, never had kids, never wants any, has no friends outside of her work, has no hobbies outside of work, and loves to work all the frickin’ time. She might argue that in her case, my point is invalid. Maybe, maybe not, but even if she’s right, she’s an extreme, unusual example that is not going to apply to the vast majority of people.

Long work weeks for a while = Okay.

Long work weeks “for the rest of your life” = Not Okay.


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