What’s Your Ideal Work Day Like?

Kaanapali_Beach_MauiI hate the ominous feeling of treading back into work after a long vacation. It’s almost depressing to have to go back after a long and restful holiday. Actually, it is downright depressing.

I was talking to a co-worker about my post vacation blues and he told me I’m probably in the wrong line of work. Fortunately, I already knew that. I’ll be the first one to admit, I’m in it mainly for the money. Just like professional athletes take more money to leave good teams all the time, I chose this career because I knew it would pay very well, I was good at it and I liked it(in that order).

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate my job at all, I actually work for a great company that’s very lenient and has great benefits and competitive pay. My company is probably one of the few that actively encourages their employees to stay fit and walk around and exercise during lunch. I usually play basketball once or twice a week during lunch(now that’s pretty awesome) to stay fit, how many companies would let you do that?

Corporate Blues

But working for a large company has its drawbacks. I rarely get the sense of accomplishment I do in other aspects of life. There is so much political BS and inefficiency that it makes certain tasks nearly impossible to get done. This is my first and only full time job I’ve ever had so it’s possible other companies are better, but from what people tell me, they’re not.

I don’t like having to depend on other people to get things done. Does that mean I don’t play well with others? I don’t think so considering I had a successful athletic career that allowed me to play Division I college sports. But there is something different about working with others in the corporate environment. Maybe since I don’t have the same passion for my job, as I did with sports, it’s a lot harder to put up with people who are lazy or don’t work very hard.

My Normal Day

In any given day, I find that I probably do a solid 3-4 hours of work. The rest of my time is consumed with helping others, going to meetings and things of that nature. I’m a big believer in the law of diminishing returns. That means that after a certain point, the amount of work you need to put in to get a task done starts to increase. So let’s say I have a task that normally takes 1 hour. If I do it in the beginning of the day, it will take one hour, but if I wait until later on in the day(after 7-8 hours of work) it might take 2 hours.

I feel like I could effectively do my job and get the exact same amount of work done in 4 hours a day. Unfortunately, I don’t think my boss and co-workers would be too happy with me showing up only 4 hours a day. In a corporate environment, your reputation is determined by the quality of your work and people’s impressions of you. I’ve found that the latter is more important.

Take two employees. Employee A shows up early and leaves late, often putting in 10+ hour days. Employee B shows up right on time but ALWAYS leaves on time. They get the exact same amount of work done, but generally employee A will be looked upon as the better employee. That doesn’t make sense to me since I would argue employee B is actually the better employee since he’s more efficient with his time.

My Ideal Day

Even though I don’t make nearly as much working on my blog as I do at my day job, I enjoy it a lot more. I like seeing a correlation between how much work I put in and direct metrics like site visitors, subscribers or revenue. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing in 5-10 years but I’d like to think it will be something where I’m the boss.

I don’t want to retire early, but I would like to semi-retire soon to something that I love like helping people with personal finance, real estate or coaching. All of these jobs could allow me to work 3-4 hours a day and more importantly work for myself. I would use the extra time to take care of my kids, exercise and live life! Trust me, there are plenty of things to do that don’t require a ton of money, only time.

The only problem with the 4 hour workday is that I need the compensation to be equal to my 8 hour workday. I’m not sure how feasible that will be in the near future but as many of my readers know, I am working very hard to build my passive income streams. My goal is to have passive income like real estate, investments, website income, etc to equal half of my day job income. Once that happens, I’ll be ready for my 4 hour workday.

Readers, do you think I’m lazy to only want to work 4 hours a day? What does it matter if you get the same amount of work done or do you like to go above and beyond?

-Harry @ PF Pro

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Hi, I'm Harry, the owner and head writer for Your PF Pro. I started this site back in 2011 in order to create a place where young professionals could come and get all of their financial questions answered. On the site, you'll find articles on everything from asset allocation for retirement to saving money at Chipotle! So enjoy..


  1. says

    I don’t think you’re lazy at all. I get frustrated occasionally because depending on what I’ve got on my agenda for work, I’m actually be more efficient staying home and working via VPN rather than driving to work and dealing with the normal office distractions. I can do that sometimes, but not as much as I’d really like.
    Plus I can often get twice as much done (or a full day’s work done in half the time) when I work at home. Win!
    Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted…PoP Income Statement – March 2013My Profile

    • says

      Yea like I said, this is the only company I’ve worked for and we now have over 150k employees worldwide so I’d say it’s a big one. I wonder what it’s like working for a smaller company though, I don’t know if it would be better, but I’m sure it would be different.

      The main thing I don’t like is that no matter how much you get done, there’s always more work to be done. Now I know how postal workers feel haha, the mail just keeps on coming!

  2. says

    I don’t think you’re lazy, just efficient (like most engineers I know!). I agree that a 4-6 hour workday is sufficient for most jobs, and that if you work over time during busy cycles, then it just balances out in the long run/annually. Seems fair, though I suppose there’s some people who would abuse that if given the chance.

    • says

      At my company, it most definitely does not balance out. The more you work, the more work you get. I had a boss who wanted me to work overtime just to work it, I didn’t even have enough work at the time. So I came in on a Saturday and charged OT, ate my lunch, surfed the internet and then went home. Does that make any sense?! haha

  3. says

    You’re not lazy. Most people are productive 3-4 hours and then pretend to spend hours in the office working when they are just browsing websites. I’d rather everyone was honest and compensated based on work achieved. Which is why I stopped working corporate 4 years ago, between the gossip and office politics it was not my scene.
    Pauline recently posted…Increase the value of your homeMy Profile

    • says

      Haha I know what you mean. I know there are people at my work who actually work for 7-8 hours a day(10-12 hours total though) but there’s no way they can be very efficient at the end of the day. It’s not healthy to sit and stare at a computer screen for 12 hours a day 6 days a week is it?!

  4. says

    No not lazy. It’s quite the opposite. Not everyone in corporate takes the time to analyze the inefficiencies of a big organization. When I was a Director I found I had more respect for my staff who set boundaries and worked less hours than their counterparts who worked more hours and produced the same results. I would bet many of those employees could have easily done their job in only 4 hours a day. But as you mention – working around schedules and maintaining a reputation does not allow for a 4-hour day.
    Dianne @ Skinny Seahorse recently posted…Fiscal Fast – the ResultsMy Profile

    • says

      Wow sounds like I should work for your company because I love working really hard for 4 hours then going home :) For now, I’m pretty content with my job because it pays a lot but there’s no way I’d be able to handle it if I was getting paid less. Corporate environment does offer security and stability though, something you won’t get if you go off on your own or at a smaller company so it’s not all bad.

    • says

      Yea honestly I like working hard, I’m a very hard worker. But it’s just too hard when you’re not rewarded for it. What’s the point? In sports I always worked my ass off because I knew I would see direct results from it and I did. I don’t know if I’m quite ready to take the jump and start my own business but it’s definitely something I’ve considered.

  5. Joe says

    Couldn’t agree more. I have a co worker who just got promoted to VP. She is always at the office when I arrive and usually when I leave. However, I have observed her production and she spends about an hour each day on the phone and the majority of her time writing lengthy emails delegating work. Something that could be 3 sentences or a 5 minute phone call is 4 full paragraphs with a full outline and sometimes takes her ALL day to complete. No wonder she needs to burn the midnight oil. However, simply outlasting co workers by sitting in your chair tends to be good enough for a promotion. Its all about posturing. I’ll stick to making the company money instead of wasting it… When it comes time to leave, perceived work ethic does not outweigh actual value and results, and counter offers will reflect that.

    • says

      That is the epitome of what I’m talking about, inefficiency at its finest. In certain jobs, where you have direct metrics of success like sales you know and everyone else knows how good of a job you’re doing. If you work 4 hours a day, but make the company a million dollars you’re a great worker. If you work 10 hours a day, but only make the company half that, everyone knows you’re not as good as the first guy.

      Unfortunately though, there aren’t a ton of jobs with direct metrics for success. So it’s very hard to objectively quantify who is better than who without looking at things like who is in the earliest, who stays the latest, etc.

      • Joe says

        She’s in an entirely different department, but we share a workspace so I’m able to observe her work day. I see the point you’re trying to make… if she were a peer in my department, that would be a valid assumption. However, that is not the case and I was simply making an observation about perceived value based on hours. You would be great at the “Jumping to Conclusions” game.

  6. says

    I don’t think you or anyone would be considered lazy to only want to work 4 hours a day. Heck I don’t want to work at all but short of winning the lottery that won’t be a reality. If you find a balance that works for you and your finances and you know what you want, don’t let anything stop you. Life is what we make of it, after all.
    Canadian Budget Binder recently posted…Net Worth Update March 2013 + 1.61% Mortgage Pre-Payment UpdateMy Profile

    • says

      Yea I think that’s the key, finding a job that allows you to do what you want but also can pay the bills. Unfortunately, I haven’t quite found that job but I’m getting closer every day. I don’t mind building up my active income before the passive income starts pouring in.

  7. says

    I’ve never worked for big corporate… But I have worked for a mom n’ pop that expanded well beyond their ability to delegate. Lets just say it was the worst 2.5 years of my life and leave it at that. Ok ok… their “motivational” tools included regular brow-beatings, fear-mongering, and psychological manipulation. He said one thing, she said the other. It was a lose-lose for me. I was fired when I demanded their instructions in writing.

    My ideal “work” day? I live it almost every day now. I wake up at 6am, check the stock-market futures and put in about 2 hours of reading before the fam wakes up. Breakfast, family stuff… Then at the desk for market open. Trades are done generally in the morning, then lunch with the fam.

    Then the next activities are just before market close to catch any late day action.

    Then I cook dinner for the fam and try to get the boy to bed. Which often takes 4 hours. (He’s 2)

    Hopefully I’ll be able to re-integrate some physical activity once the boy starts going to school.
    hungry hungry artist (@blerghhh) recently posted…Proof is in the PUTting.My Profile

  8. says

    I fall into the same exact boat Harry. I don’t love my job but the pay is just to darn good to go anywhere else. On top of that I get 3 weeks paid vacation and I am a partial owner of the business which is a family owned business which makes it a lot harder. I hope to eventually move on from that business since it’s so stressful and make it full time in the online world.

  9. says

    Haha, same here. I actually love my job but there are really days that I don’t want to get out of the bed and prepare for work. Maybe it’s our biorhythm, I don’t know but I really can relate to you and I am sure a lot of people are. Hahaha

    • says

      I like my job too! I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have to wake up and go to a job I hated and didn’t pay well. But then again, we should consider ourselves lucky to live in one of the richest countries of the world with so many opportunities that people in other countries would(/are) die(/dying) for.

    • says

      Wow that’s intense. I hope they’re paying you well at least. What’s your end game? Why do you work the hours you work? Are you saving up for something, sounds like you probably don’t even have enough time to spend all the money you’re making.

      • says

        Haha, I wish that were even a little bit true. I work for a Non-Profit, on salary, so I’m barely making ends meet – even with the PT job.

        I’ve been actively looking for a new job for several months (with no luck) so that I can cut back hours, and maybe have some semblance of a life again.
        MissAmanda recently posted…So, This is My Life, I Guess…My Profile

    • says

      Yea I would love to get up and work a couple hours in the morning, go out and exercise, get lunch, etc during the day and then work a couple more hours at night once everyone’s sleeping. That’s the life I want to live!

  10. says

    Jeez, there are really days when I am too lazy to get up and when I remember the word career suicide, I suddenly fly going to the bathroom. Lol


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