Working 7 days a week

Working 7 days a week — an experiment

In Summer 2016, Deian started looking for a way to optimise his day, work more efficiently and get more things done. The following article is a story about a little experiment we conducted over a period of more than one year.

Looking for a way to be more productive, Deian started cataloguing every Euro he earned through content creation for his customers. That led to a spreadsheet made in Apple Numbers1, in which he takes notes about his daily performance; it also lead to a little experiment: working 7 days a week.

Revenue working hours spreadsheet 2017

The spreadsheet contains the following data:

  1. date
  2. client
  3. revenue per day
  4. daily working hours
  5. hourly wage

If you take a closer look at the screenshot, you’ll notice something extraordinary for most people: Deian worked nearly every day.

A 7-hour work week? Isn’t that madness?

Not necessarily.

The circumstances of working 7 days a week

Let’s get one thing out of the way. A 7-hour work week does not work (pun intended) for everybody. Deian is a special case because he adapted his lifestyle around it — and Alina did, too.

As digital nomads, you can pretty much build your life around your work. Many of Deian’s clients work with him on projects; others give him articles to write daily. There are times when he only works two hours a day, other times he has enough work to keep him occupied for up to five hours; other times, he is able to take a day off.

Of course, during the days with few things to work on, we have the possibility to explore the city we live in, take pictures, create content for or simply relax and enjoy the day.

When Deian started the experiment of working 7 days a week, Alina ultimately had to adapt. She creates most of the content for our blog, writes articles and edits pictures every day.

One question that often comes up: Are you not tired? Don’t you want to take a break from time to time?

Well, no.

What many people do not realise is that fact that we don’t work eight hours a day like some 9-to-5-people do.

Let’s take a look at the spreadsheet again: In March 2017, Deian had worked around 46 hours. The month has 31 days so he only worked around 1.5 hours per day.

The most he has worked in one month, since he started the spreadsheet, was 125 hours in September 2016 — a swamped month and one where he even took a week off. Doing the math again, he worked 5.2 hours every day.

Doesn’t sound so bad.

You shouldn’t forget that we rarely work as much as we did in September 2016 – that was an exception. We did the math on all the months since Deian started his spreadsheet to see how many hours he has worked between September 2016 and April 2017:

MonthTotal hours workedHours worked per day
September 2016125.54.2
October 201672.92.4
November 201683.22.8
December 201644.31.4
January 201741.51.3
February 201751.21.8
March 201745.71.5
April 201732.91.1

Deian has worked, on average, a little over two hours per day for his clients.

Note: The months December and April are usually a bit slow because of the two big holidays (Christmas and Easter); January is also a slow month until people come back to work from the holidays.

Of course, Deian doesn’t only work for his clients but also does things for our blog. We haven’t created a spreadsheet about the hours spent for our blog but would estimate that its probably two hours per day. If Deian works for his clients and the blog for two hours each, in total, that is four hours per day; creating content every day means he spends 28 hours working weekly — still a lot less than what the average person spends at work (40 hours or more).

Real working hours vs. 9-to-5 working hours

One thing we always try to explain people when we talk about working 7 days a week is that we are productive people. We do not work like the average Joe who walks into his office, has a chat with every colleague, prepares some tea and goes to the toilet often.

All our working hours are for actual work done. If we decide to browse 9GAG, that doesn’t count. We could easily spend hours in front of our laptops casually browsing the web but that wouldn’t be included in the spreadsheet, nor would it be considered productive work.

If you want to be efficient, you have to cut off things that are time-wasters. Stop constantly looking what your friends are doing on Facebook and quit laughing at some new cat video on YouTube your mom sent you. Those are things you can look at when you have nothing better to do, for example, when you are waiting for a bus or plane.

We don’t want to say that all people waste their time doing work. However, studies have shown that actual work being done in an office is nowhere close to eight hours a day. According to a study from Vouchercloud.com2, productivity lasts only two hours and 53 minutes.

The top ten unproductive activities are

ActivityTime spent in minutes
1.Checking social media44
2.Reading news websites65
3.Discussing out-of-work activities with colleagues40
4.Making hot drinks17
5.Smoking breaks23
6.Texting and instant messaging14
7.Eating snacks8
8.Making food in the office7
9.Making calls to partners and friends18
10.Searching for new jobs26

Of course, the distractions of the modern work place have a role to play. Internet access is the biggest offender.

Naturally, digital nomads and travellers underlay the same temptation. Therefore, you need to restrain yourselves from wasting time if you want to be productive and work less.

Eliminating time wasters and optimising your work day

It doesn’t matter if you are a copywriter, programmer or consultant — time wasters follow you everywhere.

Until recently, the biggest one was without a question the internet. Watching videos on YouTube or browsing 9GAG consume hours of your time every month. But now, there’s also that little gadget in your pocket: your smartphone. No longer can you waste time while you use your laptop, now you can do it everywhere at any time.

The easiest way to eliminate time wasters on your smartphone is by simply not installing apps for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks — and of course, don’t log into your accounts via a web browser.

On your laptop, you can install apps that prevent you from accessing a list of websites you can define:

NameOperating SystemWebsite
freedommacOS, Windows,
Cold Turkey BlockermacOS, Windows,
FocusMemacOS, Windows,

Of course, the temptation is strong and you might try to trick the apps that are supposed to help you. To prevent this, give yourself a few minutes every day to relax and do whatever you want. Deian, for example, takes a few minutes after writing an article to browse Reddit or ResetEra. He needs to get all the thoughts he gathered for that article out of his mind to focus on the next one.

However, Deian doesn’t necessarily waste time because he finds useful information for our nomad gaming category and also other parts of our blog (browsing r/digitalnomad, r/NintendoSwitch, r/travel and so on) and of course for social media, too. Still, relaxing from time to time keeps you focused and prevents you from wasting too much time while trying to get work done.

Working 7 days a week — was it worth it?

With this experiment, we wanted to demonstrate that you can work 7 days a week if you eliminate distractions and have a working schedule that is flexible. Digital nomads who have strict deadlines or need to be present during certain time intervals might not be able to work 7 days a week.

Since we started the experiment, working 7 days a week hasn’t always been possible. Of course, running a travel blog helps you fill the gaps when you don’t have a project to work on. Although, in the last months, we neglected our website and devoted more time to ourselves. Therefore, we cannot say that it’s feasible to keep working 7 days a week indefinitely.

The question remains: Did the 7-hour work week help us be more productive? It’s hard to say, really. One thing is clear: It helped us be more flexible. We’ve become more spontaneous and decide in the morning what our day will look like. On Monday, we might start the day with a 4-hour long hike, take a nap and work until late at night to make up for the last time; the following day, we sleep in, work for four hours and go out to have a coffee later.

In the end, it really depends on what kind of location independent person you are, what you work on and what kind of activities you like.

Now, it’s your turn. Are you prepared to give the working 7 days a week challenge a try? Let us know about your experience.

  1. An alternative to Microsoft Excel ↩︎
  2. ↩︎

unsplash-logoEstée Janssens

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