How Many Hours a Week Do You Work?

When Laura was visiting me in LA, we had periods of time that we designated as our “working” time. I had to finish up a screenplay for class, and Laura was working on a few career related tasks. Together, we used the Pomodoro method so we could be as efficient as possible. Do you know about the Pomodoro method? If you don’t, you should.

Here’s the sweet and simple explanation, direct from the Pomodoro Technique website,

But in a quick summary, you basically work in intense 25 minute intervals with 5 minute breaks in between. During the 25 minutes in which you work, you don’t check your text messages, pick up calls, deviate from the task at hand, eat snacks, etc. It’s deep, focused work on whatever task needs getting done.

And man, it’s effective. I’ve been using it for years to help with my writing, and Laura just got on board while she was in town. She’s now a convert.

You do as many Pomodoros as you, but I normally average at 4 per day for writing.

It’s named the Pomodoro method after the tomato shaped kitchen timer that they suggest using.

I thought a lot about the Pomodoro method after reading this killer article about Japan’s 105-hour workweek. Yup, you read that right. 105 hours. Jeez.

The author worked at one of Japan’s elite law firms, and wrote about his experiences, which included a daily schedule of working 10am to 3am.

In practice it’s common for lawyers to block out a period of a few hours for some personal time and designate that as their weekend. Japanese lawyers work an average of 300-plus hours per month. Annually, they take less than ten days of leave. – Peter Bungate

Say what?! Man, do I feel lazy. It’s a cultural thing apparently, and it’s about making sure every task is completed perfectly in the best way possibly. While that’s incredibly admirable, you can imagine the havoc those hours inflict on people’s personal lives.

This was an interesting to tidbit from the article:

The consequences of overwork stretch into retirement. A well-known anecdote is called the “Narita Divorce,” named after Tokyo’s main international airport. Upon retirement the company will pay for a round-the-world airfare for the retiree and his wife in recognition of a lifetime of service. Being sometimes the only lengthy period spent together during the husband’s working career, the couple comes to the realization that they are incompatible and, immediately upon returning to Narita airport, decide to separate rather than spend their retirement years together. – Peter Bungate

How crazy is that?

So the question remains. How many hours a week do you really work? I probably work around 35 (including my temp job and my writing.) While that sounds meager, I’m not including reading and corresponding with professional contacts “work.”

How do we even measure hours at work anyway, especially when we’re self-employed or pursuing a more artistic path?

One response

  1. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of the Pomodoro Technique before this! I used to do something similar in college except it was work for an hour, then break for 15. It never worked out well, probably because the intervals were too long, so I may have to try this version instead!

    Liked by 1 person

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