How Long Would Your Ideal Work Week Be?

Ideal work week

Ideal work weekWe all have different ideas of what the ideal work week looks like. For some it means clocking in for a couple of days per week while playing the rest of the time. For others, it?s a more traditional 9-5, 40 hour work week. A big part of that is going to depend on what our particular needs may be from a financial standpoint. You may want to only work four days per week, but your budget may dictate otherwise.

Anyway, Carlos Slim (the Mexican telecommunications magnet who is also the second wealthiest person in the world) made headlines a few weeks ago when he called for a move to a three day work week. From what I could tell, he didn?t have set hours but simply advocated moving to a three day work week. His argument for the change is to give people more time to themselves while also working longer. He argues that it would improve our livelihood and wouldn?t mind not retiring until 73 or 75. His statements have caused quite a conversation as to what the ideal work week should be so I thought I?d add my $.02. 🙂

We Live in A Changing Culture

I know this isn?t really a shocker to many, but we?re in a changing culture. No longer are many working 30+ years for one company and retiring with a fat and healthy pension. I don?t know if that?s good or not, but it is changing. A number of things have come about over the past few years as a result, such as:

  • More people are working for themselves
  • More are working multiple jobs in order to make ends meet
  • Fewer people are working the standard 9-5 schedule

I?m sure there may be other changes at play, but these are the main ones I can think of. In light of that, I believe that Slim could be on to something with his argument for change. While I may not like the idea of not retiring until 75, I also don?t want to work myself into the ground so I can retire a few years earlier. I?d much rather have a more enjoyable life and leave open the possibility of working later in life if I choose to.

He Could Have An Underlying Motive

Some have argued that Slim?s suggestion of moving to this more laid back work week is selfish at best. For those who don?t know, Slim owns the largest telecommunications company (Telmex) in Mexico. He would stand to benefit from individuals having more free time as they would be more likely to use the services his company offers. He even said that it would give people more time to entertain themselves.

I understand why opponents would think that he?s not being completely altruistic in his suggestion, but I don?t believe that should negate it. According to the Huffington Post article I cited above, Slim regularly allows employees to retire prior to 50 if they wish and also allows for older individuals to worker considerably shorter weeks if they wish. While he would likely benefit from shorter work weeks I believe his train of thought is one that we should look at.

We Work Ourselves Too Hard

I believe the reason why so many, especially here in the States, have issue with Slim?s suggestion is we seem to get some sort of perverse pride in working ourselves to death. I would consider myself a hard worker and will go above and beyond in order to get a job done, but at what point should we stop and ask ourselves if we?re working ourselves too hard? This tendency to overwork ourselves is the underlying problem in my opinion.

Consider this. As I was doing research for this article I read that, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), the U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not offer at least one legally required paid vacation day or holiday.

How does that fare in relation to other countries? Quite pitiful to be honest as most countries in the European Union require at least four weeks of paid vacation. That?s just nuts in my opinion. While many workers in Europe are averaging around 35 or so paid days off each year, their counterparts here in the States are averaging 16 paid days off for private sector employees. The bad news doesn?t stop there as 25% of American workers don?t even have one paid day off each year. That is sad, putting it lightly.

I believe it?s somewhat obvious that we have much to learn from Slim. Maybe it doesn?t mean moving to something like a three day work week but we do need to see change. Personally speaking, I know that?s a big part of why I left the corporate world to run my own business. I want to have more control over my time. I want to be able to take time off without having to clear it with various people first. I don?t want to have to watch over my few paid days off with fear that my family and I won?t be able to enjoy doing things together. While I love working more to make more money, it?s not worth sacrificing time with my family.


What do you think about Carlos Slim?s suggestion to move to a three day work week? What does your ideal work week look like? Why do you think we overwork ourselves here in the States?



Photo courtesy of: kroszk


  1. The nature of jobs nowadays is changing. It’s like more are into making their money work for them like investing and others are into blogging which gives passive income. Me? I’ve left my typical 9-to-5 job and I put up a business where I have control over my time, which is really good.

  2. I would love a 4-day workweek and that was actually one of my goals when I quit my job in 2012. The problem is, I keep getting more and more work and haven’t been able to take a Friday off yet. Maybe one day.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I can definitely relate Holly. That has been one of our goals as well. My wife is able to get a 4 day week in once every month or so, but when you’re getting more and more work in that can be difficult to do.

  3. I would be more than fine with a 4-day workweek. I think that would be ideal. Now, I think a better idea is to reduce the number of hours in a workday. We have all known we are less productive in the afternoon!

  4. I would love a 4 day work week (an actual 4 day work week, not the Tim Ferriss kind). I would work 4 days, relax and have fun for 2 days, and use the extra day off to do housework and plan for the next week. This is what I use my Sundays for now, so Saturday is the only relax / fun day.

  5. Kipp says:

    A three day work week doesn’t sound that bad to me, I could probably maintain that for a very long time. The only problem with situations like this is money… I highly doubt companies will pay what they do now when you are working 5 days as they would if you worked 3 days. So in order for the transition to work I really need to cut out debt, but I think many American’s cannot lose any income as they sadly live paycheck to paycheck.

  6. I would LOVE a three day work week! Actually I tell people all the time that I would be much more productive if I had at least one other day to the weekend. I think that many of us spend “work time” by wasting it trying to incorporate the down time we are not getting on the weekends. If we had more weekend time, we would probably be more focused and more productive during work time.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I think I’d fluctuate between wanting a three or four day work week. I like your point about being more focused during work time and who wouldn’t want an extra day on the weekends? 🙂

  7. I’m with most people in saying that a 4 day workweek would be fine with me. I would be okay working 9 hours a day for a total of only 36 hours. But I also wonder if we get a 4 day workweek, would we want a 3 day workweek because a 3-day weekend is not good enough?

    • John Schmoll says:

      That’s a great question Aldo! I would tend to think I’d be fine with a 4 day work week as it would help give more of a true day to relax, but that would also require good time management to do that.

  8. I hate how the workweek is a strict 40 hours. In my previous job I had to be there for 40 hours even though I got all of my work done and even asked others if they needed help. I ended up surfing the internet and cleaning my office a lot.

    Now that I work for myself, I work more or less than 40 hours a week, depending on how busy I am. I love the freedom to do other things when the work isn’t there.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I’m with you there Jon. In my former job I had to be there 40 hours regardless of what was going on and just ended up resulting in a lot of lost time.

      I work more hours now, but the flexibility and ability I have to work when/where I want more than makes up for it.

  9. I think a three of four day work week would be nice. I don’t know if I could handle it, though. I’m kind of a workaholic, lol. I think if all workers had flexible schedules like freelancers they’d be much happier. It makes sense to work when your energy is high, but we haven’t created businesses based on that.

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