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Tuesday
May262009

six day working year

Yep. Six twelve hour days= 72 hours= 1.38 hours a week work.

Forget the four hour week guy. (Timothy Ferriss- author of the "Four Hour Working Week".)

Except these six days can’t be divided up and diluted. They are six whole longish days. A real day’s work times six.

A day is a magical thing. It isn’t just hours. Think of the great days of your life. They dwarf all the wasted ‘hours’ you may have experienced.

The first millionaire I had the opportunity to meet, an entrepeneur who had made his fortune developing and selling a plastic chicken drinker of all things, told me he worked, really worked about six days of the year. Hence the title. Oh he pottered about the office, watched things ticking over, did the mechanical work of invoicing and answering the phone when no one else was around; but real work- work that added to the value of the company, work that changed things, work that made a difference? Six days.

As a writer I know there is the grunt work of getting the words down. It can take months. It just takes time though. Set it up right, reduce distractions, have the right word count program and you’ll make it. But the real work- the ideas, the characters, the frame of a book- it can take minutes. A novelist I met before I had written anything- he was on his third novel when I met him told me something I know now is true though it sounded unbelievable- you can rough out a novel in a day.

According to Genesis, God made the world in six days. On the seventh he rested. Maybe we can garner some metaphorical truth here- we only need to focus on six days of real work a year. Set aside those days when the great leap forward is to be made, or, when you feel that real work is happening go with it and don’t strangle it with mere routine.

Writer Milan Kundera is fond of pointing out that there is a lot of mechanicality in writing a novel and composing a symphony. There’s a lot of filling in, kind of like what cgi technicians do when they fill in all the details in the background of a movie. Maybe it would help to divide what you do into the gruntwork, the filling in, and the real six day work that moves you forward. Maybe you could even get others to do the grunt work.

Timothy Ferriss’s book the ‘Four Hour working Week’ offers a wonderful dream- but most people want to work- but not too much and not at something hateful. They want to be useful. It’s OK surfing for two weeks when you’ve earned it through hard work, but you try surfing 50 weeks- it ceases to be quite such fun- when I did aikido full time it was pretty grim- not at all the fun and games of a couple of classes a week- it became, in fact, professional. Writing too, ceases to be anything like the fun it was when you dabbled, even if you develop a compulsion to write or surf, it just isn’t like the good old amateur days.

People want to work less, earn more, and do more rewarding work. When I mention that the San Bushman of the Kalahari, before many were forcibly relocated, obtained al they needed for living, doing 17 hours work a week- and this in one of the most inhospitable places on earth, people nod with recognition- yeah 17 hours a week- I could just about handle that.

So seventeen hours of maintainence work a week and six days of real work. What will I do with all the time left over?

 

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