Friday, August 17, 2007

The Non-Traditional Work Schedule Nightmare for Moms

Spain is known for its easy going culture where coworkers linger at lunches that last hours, employees pause to nap in the middle of the workday, and bosses never balk at these behaviors. In the corporate world, this schedule is relished by upper management who often work into the early evening hours. However, as commute times rise, workdays lengthen, and more women join the workforce, families are finding that Spanish two-year olds will not wait patiently for a relaxed family dinner at 9:00 in the evening. Spanish women's efforts to secure a more family friendly workday were futile until a new conservative government mandated 9 to 5 core hours for government employees (who ever thought we would applaud 9 to 5 here at Flexible Workforce?). Other employers have begun to follow suit.

Women in the corporate world everywhere face longer workdays often with no sign of reprieve from what is considered traditional work hours. If your work hours seem to be increasing at the cost of your family and personal time, consider shortening your workday. Rationalize the change in schedule by applying Pareto's 80/20 principal. The premise of Tim Ferris's recent best seller, The 4-Hour Work Week, Pareto's principal posits that 80% of results come from just 20% of efforts. Applying the 80/20 principal to your workday means that you complete 80% of your to do list in 20% of your traditional day. The other 80% of your day is virtually unproductive, lost to email programs, chatty coworkers, and the internet for example.

To make your workday highly productive in fewer hours learn to work smarter:
  • Make an effort to keep phone calls short and on topic
  • Do not check personal email while at work
  • Check work email only at designated times of the day
  • Use folders to organize incoming emails
  • Saving reading and researching for times you know you will not be interrupted
  • Be selective about what files and papers you keep avoiding unnecessary clutter
  • Store all incoming mail and email in either an Action or Reference file
  • Buy in bulk supplies that you use often
  • Combine similar tasks
  • Focus your efforts on tasks that utilize your strong points. Delegate tasks that rely on your weaknesses.


TMB said...

Is this advice mostly for self-employed folks? I know that 80% of what I get done takes place in 20% of my time, but my office mandates that I sit here till 5 no matter what. So I guess what I'm wondering is, what benefit would I get out of taking this advice, when there's no hope to get out earlier? At least now I get to call the bank, read an interesting blog or three, and not sweat an extended chat session. I wish I could go home at 3 every day though--I would be a productivity machine if that were even remotely possible! :-)

Amy said...


You're right that increasing your productivity in order to get your work done before 5:00 is a fruitless effort unless your boss is on board for a flexible work arrangement. But with a good proposal and an understanding boss, there is no reason to continue putting in that face time until the whistle blows. I know I would rather be at home than sitting in an office coming up with things to keep me busy.

I am glad I was one of the interesting blogs you ran across at the office however!


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