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Here’s the thing about the corporate world — it’s a dog-eat-dog environment. If you aren’t taking the necessary steps to come out on top, you’re going to be left with the plebeians on the ground floor. One of the biggest things you can do to get ahead is by cutting your hours down. Because let’s be honest: the only people who are actually working all day are on Wall Street, in a hospital, or working construction. Who needs all eight hours to get their work done? I came to realize this very early in my business consulting career. Unless a deadline was pressing against my neck, my workload never really required me to get in the zone for an entire workday. So how did I make it better? I’ll let you in on my little secret.
It all started around Christmas two years ago when a coworker (who had become a good friend after our two-week “training” trip to a college town) had been assigned the same project with a well-known Dallas company. Not sure of what to expect, we both showed up eager to get work done only to be told to find some open desks and someone will get with us. Day one came and went with us sitting there twiddling our thumbs. The next morning, after seeking out multiple people, we were finally told what we were there to do. So we got to work. However, we both came to the realization that we were going to blow through our part rather quickly. So we both needed a release of the 8-hour work day.
We spent the two weeks making sure we were the first to get into the office at 6:00 a.m. and began tracking the times that everyone on our team would get in. Our direct supervisor would arrive at 7:15 sharp every morning. He was also the next person to get in. He would applaud our hard work to get in early and already be “working” when he arrived. We told him that since we live far from the office, it’s easier to beat traffic to get in earlier and leave earlier (which was bullshit for me because I could have walked from my Uptown apartment if I really wanted). It was on, we had made it our mission to get in no later than 7 o’clock every morning. One hour down and suddenly that 8 hour day was now 7.
Being the greedy bastards that we are, we wanted to see where else we could cut the trim off the fat of our work day. The great thing about Dallas is that there are these underground tunnels that allow you to walk from building to building without having to walk outside to get to food. We utilized this to our advantage by always walking to the furthest possible locations for our lunch. Or, if we were feeling adventurous, we would head to the steakhouse under the Fairmount for lunch. Taking these trips would easily turn the hour of allotted time for lunch into an hour-and-a-half. But a well-timed lunch break can make it seem like you were in the office right when you were supposed to be. We would take our lunch an hour before anyone else, so by the time we got back, everyone else was down in the tunnels getting their own lunch. 45 more minutes cut. Down to a 6 hour 15 minute work day.
With still more time to kill, we got a little greedy and tried to turn our fully-loaded work day into five-and-a-half glorious hours. Challenge accepted. Since my friend was a smoker and I was not, this would be easier for him to accomplish than it would be for me. But chances make champions and I’m like MJ in his prime so I suddenly became a “recovering smoker” who would only “smoke” once a day which just involved me going downstairs with my compadre and shooting the shit for 15 minutes. My bud would take an additional smoke break in the morning that I wouldn’t go with him on. The final 30 minutes were easy ones to accomplish: the morning 15 minute shit and the 15 minute post lunch poop. And just like that, we were working 5.5 hours a day and everyone around us was none the wiser.
There you have it. If you’re trying to make your day/week a lot shorter than it has to be, follow these simple steps. I will warn you that you should only attempt this if you can actually finish your work without sacrificing quality, or else you’ll find yourself working the classifieds for a new job. .