MY JOURNEY TO A 40 HOUR WORK WEEK

“Come aside and rest awhile.”  – Jesus

Matthew 6:31

When I was 15, I helped install a horse fence. One hole every 8 feet. For as far as I could see. We worked from about 6am until 5pm with a 30-minute break for lunch. I forgot to wear a belt one day, and burnt my bum. Worked 50-hour weeks when I was 15. I still remember those lunches under a tree. My mom packed the best lunches for me. Sometimes the farmer would bring us a lemonade. The backhoe dug the hole, I had a shovel and threw the dirt aside or took out a rock if needed. I worked with a hard-working son of a gun named Dick Dornacker.

The rich horse farmer offered me a job at the end of the fence project. I took a lot of pride in that, he must have thought of me as a good worker. Told him I worked for my dad. That was the end of that.

In college, I always worked a University job, a job off-campus and I reffed flag football or basketball games. 3 jobs and I took a full-time workload.

My dad would take me to work at Campbellsport Building Supply; drive me there, we lived together. We opened the gate every morning. Closed it every night. First there, last to leave. My dad was that kind of awesome boss. Saturdays, I worked every Saturday growing up and even early into my marriage. Easy stuff 7am until noon, but sometimes until 1pm.

I have interviewed hundreds of people. Maybe more. I have had so many talks about overtime pay. Explaining you can make a ton of money here if you just look at the overtime available. If they asked about flexibility or a 40 offer work week…that was a red flag for me.

Then the pandemic hit. We went to 32-hour work weeks at Drexel, and still got shit done. I have read Tim Ferris’s book “The 4 Hour Work Week.” I went back and re-read it. I re-thought everything.

I realized a lot of the time I spent at work, the 50-60 hour work weeks, and one day a week at a work event at night “networking” was probably just burnout and a lot of downtime with not as much impact as I thought. I could still have a blast (I have always loved my job, team, and customers) but cut out the bullshit and work less, I knew that deep down. Also as a leader, I need to leave a gap for others to make good decisions. Always being there I end up being a helicopter work mom. Yikes.

We went to 40-hour weeks 2 years ago. As a company. It allowed for a lot more HAPPINESS. It worked! We stayed efficient, effective, and BALANCED. We changed people’s LIVES.

I didn’t. I couldn’t let my team down. What the hell would I do anyway? I don’t really have any hobbies.

However, I must lead by example. I must break away from old habits.

3 weeks ago, I went to a scheduled day a week off. 4/10s if you will. I still respond to texts and emails and calls on that off day no problem…I know no other way.

How has it gone? It’s been clunky. Weird. I have “off” tomorrow. That barely even makes sense to me or my family. Dad is home… Why? Is he Ok? I haven’t really told most people.

I told our CFO to take down my salary by 20% to reflect the fewer work hours. She hasn’t even done so yet… I am guessing she doesn’t believe it yet either (I’ve worked with her forever).

I have to lead by example. My good ideas come when I am off. Each day is now important at work. I make a BIGGER impact by prioritizing. I see some salesman here still working a ton…but not being EFFECTIVE. Chasing more money. Chasing. Always chasing. Hopping from fire to fire. I am hoping I can lead them to a better place by setting a good example.

The relaxed organized salesman will PROPEL our company to new heights!

I think I can actually be a better leader AND have 20% more of my LIFE away from work to make a bigger impact on the world by working 4/10s. I’ve contemplated this for years. It’s GO TIME.

I’m not scared. It’s just like a deep breath into the unknown. It’s clunky.

I don’t know what this looks like. I guess you have to start somewhere.

I don’t need more STUFF. STUFF leads to more work, more stress, and more problems. I need more TIME.

This gives me that.

Maybe I’ll build a horse fence.

Peace.

Joel