Came across this article about how Sweden shortened their workday to six hours.
Germany is similar, with basically a 7-hour workday.
All of Europe really has a much more humanistic approach when it comes to work.
Many businesses are closed on Sundays. Many will close for several weeks during the holiday season. And they take longer lunches with time to actually eat slowly, enjoy their meal, and recharge.
The U.S. has a lot to learn from them because for all the time off people have over there, they are more productive, healthy and well-adjusted.
In my business, there are naturally some days here and there where I am nose-to-grindstone all day doing client work. And I enjoy those occasional balls-to-wall challenges.
But those are the exception, not the rule.
It wouldn’t be humanly sustainable for very long otherwise, and the service and quality of my work to clients would suffer as a result.
That’s why, in my business, I generally have a 4-hour workday.
It’s like that for several reasons.
First, I don’t operate an “assistant” business model. That means I don’t work with clients like a day-to-day assistant (like in the employment world).
I don’t take on work that inherently requires me to be chained to my computer all day, every day, or that can only be done within certain client-imposed hours.
And I don’t provide instant/same-day turn-around on client work requests. I only take on work that can be scheduled within my work management system.
If it’s work that can’t be done within a three-day window, then it’s not work I take on, and the client has to either do it themselves or plan ahead better and provide more lead time in the future.
That’s because it’s a standard in my life to operate my business around my life, not the other way around.
I firmly believe that your business should support your life, not suck the life from you.
And it’s important to me that my work and business be structured in a way that gives me plenty of breathing room so I can do great work and take fantastic care of clients while also having time and space to take care of me.
(Remember, ultimately, taking care of you is taking care of clients. Someone who is overworked, stressed and unhappy is no good to anyone.)
It’s also why I don’t do what I call “wipe your ass” work such as making appointments, answering phones or managing anyone’s day-to-day calendar or inbox.
Never have and never will and my business and income haven’t suffered one bit (in fact, I make more money and command higher fees because of it).
That kind of work is what “assistants” do, and as an Administrative Consultant, I’m not an assistant. Clients need to manage their own calendars, inboxes and personal appointments.
When you take on that kind of work (answering phones, managing client calendars and inboxes), you put yourself into on-demand/same-day timing because that’s what so much of that work entails. When you do that, you end up creating a business that has you working like an employee and requires you be attached at the hip to your computer and email every single day.
Leaving you very little of the freedom and flexibility you went into business to have.
Don’t buy into the BS that you have to be anyone’s personal assistant to also provide admin support and be of value. They aren’t the same thing and are not inextricably entwined.
Those people who think that have only ever known how to work with clients like an employee and don’t know how to think more entrepreneurially about themselves and how they offer their service.
The more you know your target market and their business/profession, the better you can identify and focus on the more important and actual administrative work that moves their business forward, helps them accomplish their goals, and creates real, tangible results.
Beyond that, I let clients do their own ass-wiping. 😉
If they need someone to work like an employee/assistant to them each and every day, then that’s who they need to hire, not me. Those aren’t the clients I work with.
Because I’m not in the assistant business. I’m in the administrative support business. Two completely different things. 😉
If you’d like to finetune your own administrative support business and work with clients in a way that gives you more freedom and flexibility in your life—which, I might add, also allows you to be more productive and take far better care of them in the process—I share my exact business model and management systems and how to implement them in my guide, Power Productivity & Business Management for Administrative Consultants (GDE-41). Check it out.