If you had the option of working less than one work week from Monday to Friday, would you take it? You will most likely answer yes in less than a second, without a doubt. Luckily for you, if you’re over 40, there’s a revealing study you might want to cite the next time you walk into your boss’s office to negotiate a new schedule or time off.
In 2016, economic researchers published a study that found that, for workers over 40, a three-day workweek could result in better performance. Some of you are probably hearing this and are simply confirming what you have already known for years based on your own work / life balance. But how did they conclude that the magic number is 3?
Is working fewer days a week really beneficial?
One study looked at 3,500 women and 3,000 men in Australia to analyze their work habits through a series of cognitive tests. Some of these included:
- Read words out loud
- Reciting lists of numbers backwards
- Matching letters and numbers under time pressure
After taking into account people’s quality of life, economic well-being, family structures, and employment, economic researchers found that people who worked an average of 25 hours per week tended to perform better. In fact, overall cognitive performance would increase until people hit the 25-hour mark, at which point cognitive test scores began to decline due to fatigue and stress.
Work can be a double-edged sword. It can stimulate brain activity, but at the same time, long hours of work and certain types of tasks can cause fatigue and stress that can damage cognitive functions.
7 Dangerous Warnings of Being Overworked
Whether it is a matter of pride or that you really love your work, the time will come, if you are not careful, that you will burn yourself as a result of being consumed by work. Therefore, there are some things to watch out for if you spend more time at your workplace than with your family or friends.
1. Turn to alcohol or drugs to relax
2. Working long hours but without productive results to prove it
3. You lack sleep and you feel fatigued all day
4. Feelings of sadness or depression begin to creep into your life
5. In addition to the large number of hours you already work, you are even working overtime
6. Your eyes are sore and your body is sore
7. Relationships with your children, spouse, or friends seem to be falling apart.
All of the above is undesirable and that is why it is important to take studies like the one mentioned seriously. Especially with the age to retire and collect pension from the state probably decreasing, working these hours of pain at the cost of your body and your brain does not seem like a good or sustainable compromise solution.
There’s a reason countries like France have made it illegal to email employees after work hours. Other scientists have also suggested changing the modern workweek to four days (and you can bet everyone could benefit from that). So it goes without saying that work-life balance needs to be addressed seriously.
Everyone in favor of three-day work weeks, say “Yes!”
We imagine that everyone would agree if the opportunity arose, and why not? In fact, the report’s figures suggest that people who work extremely long hours have lower cognitive abilities than those who don’t even work.
What the researchers find is that cognitive functioning improves to the point of working fewer hours , say, about 25 hours a week and decreases when this number of hours is exceeded. In reality, at first the decrease is very marginal, and there is not much effect yet that the working hours increase to 35 per week. But when it reaches beyond 40 hours per week, the decline is much faster.
With that said, we understand that not everyone has the privilege of being in a well-paying job that they are passionate about and strikes a perfect work-life balance. If you find yourself in a situation that requires long hours or you are simply fed up with your current job, be sure to fill your life with what you value the most.
Whether it’s family, friends, lifelong hobbies, or community involvement, make sure you get involved in those things!