How To Create A Habit Of Working Less Hours [Work Plan]

24 hours is all we have in a day. BUT, it is absolutely enough time to get everything done that is important.
24 hours clocks

It often appears that the workload is overwhelmingly large and demands for your time is coming from many different directions. That may be the case because work is ongoing and endless. There will always be something else to do. You have to realize that you can’t get everything done in a day. One key is that you must prioritize and focus only on getting those things that are important for that day, done that day. Understanding this basic principle is important for living productively; but how do you create a habit of working less hours? The answer is to have a work plan for working less hours. Below I will show you a template for creating a work plan using 10 simple ground rules.

busy with unimportant tasks

Typically our  workday become overloaded when we fill it with lots of unimportant tasks. We focus on things that are not urgent and even things others should do. If you fall in this trap, you should check out articles to assist with skills for prioritizing your workday and deciding which tasks you should tackle first.

Another issue that keeps us bound to the busy schedules and working long hours is not having basic ground rules for working. Everyone should have a “Work Plan”. We have to set boundaries and commit to them because they are the guardrails for work-life balance. I think the single most important thing you can do today to reduce your schedule and create a habit of productivity is to establish basic ground rules.  Below are some rules you should consider as the foundation for your work plan:

work plan

1) Establish the maximum amount of working hours you are willing to commit to each day that will allow for family and personal obligations. My recommendation is to commit to only 8 hours a day, maximum. Again, work is never ending and you will always have something more to do tomorrow. If you have difficulty getting work done in eight hours, explore additional productivity resources for tips to work smarter, not longer.

2) Set realistic deadlines each day for accomplishing tasks. Build unexpected delays in your schedule. Do not over commit yourself, but work diligently to complete important things.

3) Direct others to someone else first, before adding item on your task list. If someone else should do it, let them do it. Knowing how to do something doesn’t mean you should do it. Work as a phone operator do, simply dispatch tasks to the right person.

4) Take the last few minutes of your workday to organize your desk and plan for the next day. Don’t make checking emails your last task as there may be something in there you can’t resist to address. Be sure to jot down tomorrow’s list of things to do and place on top of pile so it is the first thing you see.

5) Take a lunch break. Eat healthy and do a physical activity during your lunch time.

6) Be sure to get a good night sleep, no less than 5 – 6 hours. Sleep is important for the body to repair and also for the mind to reset.

7) Dedicate at least an hour to learning something new. This is an important health benefit to keep brain sharp and is an investment in your future. It is also a mark of a leader and a great confidence booster.

8) Spend at least 5 – 8 hours devoted to family time. If you have small children this is unavoidable. Managing a household is truly our first full time job.

9) Spend at least 2 hours for personal time throughout the day; time to unwind and rejuvenate. How about watching a little TV or rediscovering your hobbies. Whatever calms you (besides work), do it.

10) Do something to create a second source of income. This activity helps prepare you for the future and create options for other opportunities.  Being totally dependent on your job as sole source of income is like having all your eggs in one basket. I suggest passive income opportunities because with far less time, you can create a sustainable source of income that may allow you to retire early or support you in retirement.

In summarizing above, a work plan that incorporates your ground rules would look something like this:

  • 8 hours for work
  • 5 hours for sleep
  • 6 hours for family
  • 1 hour lunch, physical activity
  • 2 hours for personal, relax, leisure
  • 2 hours for creating a second source of income (or reallocated to any category above except work).

Creating a similar work plan will give you a baseline to shoot for just like setting a budget does for your finances. This plan is a guide that you can adjust according to your commitments, lifestyle, and goals. The important thing to remember is to be mindful of how you spend your time. For example, if your children are grown and out the house, you may spend 3 hours family time and use extra time on leisure and working on passive income opportunity.

Finally, you can compare your plan with how you actually spend your time. There are applications available to track how you spend your time. Check out time management product review for comparison of various applications and even free offers of the favorite ones. Having a view of your work plan and how you actually spend your time will be the basis of making important changes.

comparison chart

Let me know what you think about setting ground rules. Do you think setting and writing down your work plan will help you? Please share your favorite rules in comments below. If you prefer, email me at claudette@youworktoomuch.com.

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22 Replies to “How To Create A Habit Of Working Less Hours [Work Plan]

  1. I love how you broke down what your day typically looks like for you like how many hours you spend at work versus family, eating, exercise, etc. I think sometimes it’s hard to balance work and life with all the demands placed in our work environments. Employers expect more from employees which means more hours. But still no excuse to take away time for yourself! I need to do a better job of giving myself more time each day to do more things for myself plus sleep! Great post!

    1. Baily, first, thanks for commenting. You are correct that work demands seem to take over and dominate our time and attention. I hope reading this has helped as a reminder to move toward balance. The work demands are not going to change until you change. Start each day with the intention of managing your time and you will see a shift. Wishing you much fun and much success!

  2. I like the recommendations this site offers for scheduling and organizing the time one spends working from home. Although every ones time has to fit the activities within their home. This template I believe is good for adjusting and getting ideas that fit each individual specific needs to have productive work days.

    1. Maurice, I’m glad you liked these recommendations and hope they will be helpful to you. The template is a guide and can be adjusted easily. The key is to recognize that you need these guardrails in order to develop a habit of life balance and productivity. Many people just wing it and haven’t taken the time to consider it in this manner. They don’t manage time at all, but want to. This is an easy way to start managing your time by starting with a basic plan. Thanks for commenting.

  3. I totally agree with setting realistic deadlines because sometimes I get a goal but I can’t seem to finish it in the timeframe I wanted to and I end up giving up or postponing it for later and in both cases, the job gets delayed.
    Thank you for writing this post about creating a work plan, I think I will make one for myself too.
    Paulina

    1. Pauline, I’m happy to hear that you could benefit from this information. I believe without a workplan, we tend to do exactly what you describe, just keep taking on more and more and not accomplishing those things that will bring us most happiness. So doing something as simple as jotting down your work plan is a great start. Thanks for your comments.

  4. A great way to organise your daily schedules. It is amazing how, if we don’t spend a few moments a day preparing every tasks, we tend to spend far too much time on tasks that we feel need more attention and tend to ignore other very important chores that are most need to reach our goals. Thanks for sharing this guide Claudette.

    1. Thanks Daniel for commenting. I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the post and hope it inspired you in some way to live a more balanced life or encourage others to do so.

  5. Oh Claudette, you make it seem to easy! You know there is work (the drudgery kind) and then there is work (the kind where the hours just slip away and you don’t even realize it’s been 3 hours!) HA HA HA I’m not a very organized person, but I will give it a try! I loved your article and I find your writing style very encouraging and energizing! Thanks! Have an amazing day.

    1. Love the humor! You can do it 🙂 I think you may benefit from setting a timer before starting any task; that way if it is the drudgery kind or the pleasant kind, you will only devote as much time as you planned. You can always reschedule more time if needed, but you’ll be amazed how much you can get done if time is restricted. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  6. Thank you for all those great tips! I really need to get more productive… sometimes it seems 24 hours a day is not enough.

    I’ll also try to do a physical activity during my lunch time, I’m sure I can get at least 15 minutes
    Thanks again for sharing

    1. Just do it! Nike says it best. It is best to pick a couple things and do consistently; so 15 minutes of physical activity is a great start. Thanks for commenting.

  7. I love this post and the way you have broken down the day, when you have a family and work to look after, you always wonder were you can fit the time in to generate a passive income, but you have shown how it easy it is to make a plan, we had a timetable at school, why not for our business. Thank you for the insightful post, I will certainly be doing this.

    1. Thanks Jane for commenting. I think this is a critical step to life balance, particularly when building passive income. When your Work Plan helps you set boundaries and lead to productive time in both personal matters and business, then your journey will be more relaxed and enjoyable.

  8. Hi! Your post was great to help people with time management. I use to do that. I normally write down everything with times. However, 5 hours of sleep could be not the best option, do not you think? I mean I know that doctors recommend you to sleep at least 8 hours. I also know that with work and family is really difficult! Thank you so much for the information 😀

    1. Hello Javiera, having a plan is the key. Each person can set the times based on their commitments. I believe the most popular recommended amount of time one needs to sleep each day is 8 hours. I am uncertain about the scientific consequences of getting less than 8, say 5 -7 hours. I will do some research. I do not use alarm clocks and I just let my body dictate the amount of time and for me it is between 5 – 6 hours max.

  9. I read another article last week about this very topic, so this is confirmation to me that I need to set up a schedule for working and stick to it. Letting extra stuff get in the way of what I am doing stresses me out anyway, so this is the best idea for me!
    Thank you for posting these ideas!

  10. You and this post is so stellar! I love the breakdown and it really helped me to prioritize my schedule. I like number 4 the best in this list and find that organization really helps in a good balance and not working too much!

    1. Hello Manika, I am glad you liked the post and found something useful in it. I wish you much success with life balance particularly as you build a successful online business.

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