Working Our Way to a 15-Hour Work Week

We’re all familiar with the idea of escaping the rat race; that endless, self-defeating pursuit. You work more hours, to buy more stuff, to bring you greater joy … . But of course, because you’re working more hours, you don’t have time to enjoy the stuff that more money made available.

The key, of course, is to find the right balance. Work just enough hours to make enough money to enjoy the people and activities that are important to you. Of course part of that calculation considers the period beyond your working years. Ideally you will be able to save enough money to retire at a reasonable age and be able to live your chosen lifestyle.

john-maynard-keynes

I believe it’s safe to say that most of us would rather be spending more time with our loved ones than making money. Famed British economist John Maynard Keynes certainly believed so. Back in 1930, he predicted that the working week would be drastically cut, to perhaps 15 hours a week, with people choosing to have far more leisure as their material needs were satisfied. Keynes predicted that living standards in “progressive countries” such as the United States and Britain would be between four and eight times higher and the greater, more efficient productivity (robots? technology?) would leave people far more time to enjoy the good things in life.

Of course, despite the fact that many progressive countries are five times richer than they were a century ago, we are working longer hours than ever before. If we weaned ourselves off the need to be hyper-consumers, focused more intensely on the things that were truly important, better leveraged the technologies that have made our work lives more efficient, and implemented a universal basic income, could we get away with a 15-hour work week?

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.

6 Comments

  1. It all depends how you can attain the freedom to work less. Without work most people cant survive as they are living paycheck to paycheck. But if you’re saving, and have a plan to get out eventually, I see this as a possibility for those people who want FI.

    • “But if you’re saving, and have a plan to get out eventually … .” Indeed. The operative word from my perspective is plan. A solid, detailed plan is a must.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, my friend.

  2. I believe you’re describing the ‘hedonistic lifestyle’ James. I see what you’re saying as the whole concept behind financial independence. Get off the treadmill early and enjoy your life while still young. Great video by the way.

    • “Get off the treadmill early and enjoy your life while still young.” Indeed. Now that our financial plan is largely on auto-pilot and we are on track to reach financial independence at our desired age, a lot of our attention has turned to really managing our physical fitness … paying close attention to our diet and exercising regularly. For us, it isn’t enough to get to retirement, we want to get there in style and enjoy to the greatest extent possible!

      Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  3. Interesting video. I think we are moving towards greater working hours. Technology has pushed us towards more e-mail, more phones call and allowing employers to stay connected with employees all hours of the day and night. 🙁

    • I fear you are correct. Unfortunately, our advances in technology and productivity seem to be guiding us down a different path than envisioned by Keynes.

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