Thursday, March 15, 2012

The 3.5 hr work week: Escape 9-5, spend money and live on your mum's floor

Everyone here has no doubt heard of Timothy Ferriss' worldwide bestselling book "The 4 hour work week: Escape 9-5, live anywhere and join the new rich". Well, I have come up with a revolutionary new concept that is going to blow this out of the water. Ready?

Drum roll please…..

The 3.5hr work week!

The 3.5 work week is all about being smarter to free up more time for laziness. I would say working smarter however the term "work" is a word I want to avoid as much as possible.

Work is all about appearances. You want to appear as a valuable employee while not actually doing any work or, as the case may be, no more than 42 mins of work per day. There are certain things you will need to achieve this - a packet of breath mints, a shiny water bottle, a large coffee cup and if you don't already, you will need to take up smoking. Something else that may come in handy is a smart phone if you don't have facebook access at work.

Just like a good breakfast, the start of the day is the most important. A good employee is a punctual employee. Be sure to be on time every day  although be careful not to be a second early as this may result in precious minutes being wasted on actual work.

Announce yourself upon arrival. You want everyone, especially your boss, to know you are there on time. A big loud good morning is always a good head turner but anyone can do that. You will want to make yours distinctive so that people will know it is you even if they can't see you. You can try putting a melody to it like when greeting a teacher at school (as our old principal Mr Paton liked to say, "Put some effort into it and really make it feel as though it were coming out of the top of your head"). If you don't quite have the capacity to formulate speech from the top of your head then try saying it in a different language - "selamat pagi everyone” or “Guten morgen everyone” are good starting points.

Now you will need to make sure your computer is set up in an area with a good view of the office. As you will be accessing non-work related stuff online for a good portion of your day you need to be able to keep an eye on things around you to ensure you do not get caught. Set up your shiny water bottle in a position that reflects the area behind you so a manager cannot creep up behind you whilst you are surveying “”.

Log into your computer – with a bit of luck this will take up to 10 minutes. There is your first piece of work related activity completed.

Once your presence is known you can then escape out of the office for your first coffee of the day. This should take anywhere between 30-45 minutes. You should find a nice little coffee place that is about 10 minutes walk from your office and dawdle down there, buy your coffee and dawdle back. If you don't drink coffee, that's fine. You will still need to purchase the coffee so you have the cup - pour out the coffee and replace it with warm water. It would help to also learn a little about the beaning process and coffee in general so if you are ever quizzed about excessive coffee breaks you can claim to be a coffee freak and bamboozle the interrogator with your obvious coffee knowledge and then claim that this particular place is the only one that makes decent coffee in the city. With a bit of luck they will agree with you so as not to seem ignorant to the ways of coffee and you now have someone to back up your claims.

Once back in the office it is time for your second piece of work for the day. You will want to sift through your work to find a particularly complex task. Once a suitably complex task has been located (this should take no more than 15 minutes) you should start cringing your face and cursing lightly under your breath - basically making a subtle but noticeable song and dance about how you always get the hard ones.

Please feel free, whilst making this song and dance, to otherwise engage yourself in some facebooking, reading this blog online, emailing people or any other activity that can be conducted at your computer. Be sure to type loudly to show your frustration. Once your distaste for this particular task is obvious to your colleagues you will then leave for your first smoke break of the day. This should take approximately half an hour and if questioned about your disappearance, summon a sheepish grin to your face, turn your head slightly to the side and state that you "needed two after the morning you have had".

You will notice now that your morning is nearly over and you have achieved no more than 25 minutes of working. You are well on your way to that dream of a 3.5 hour working week. You should now spend the rest of the morning tapping furiously at your keyboard and occasionally massaging your temples with your eyes closed (all the while facebooking, catching up on the latest celebrity scandals at new weekly online).

Lunch time is important. You want to duck off for lunch 5-10 mins early but be sure to get back on time. You have set yourself up for a nice easy run home now and don't want to ruin it with tardiness that will bring extra scrutiny upon yourself.
Once back from lunch (be sure to eat some breath mints to cover the smell of alcohol on the breath) grab your complex task and wander over to your boss to discuss. Start of the conversation about your work however be sure not to let this work type conversation to last for longer than 15 minutes. You want to steer the conversation around to something your boss is passionate about - football, fishing, skydiving, fashion. Whatever it is, make sure you are knowledgeable and up to date on the topic as well. Pretend you love it as much as your boss does. This works in your favour for two reasons - it endears you to your boss thus making you semm more of a valuable employee than you really are plus, if you work it right, you can get an hour or so in just talking to your boss about unrelated work matters.

Once the conversation is finished go back to your desk and start working on, what I like to call, the Penski file (so named after that great slacker george Costanza). It involves grabbing a folder (or just some blank sheets) and wandering aimlessly around the office. Be sure, though, to walk with purpose. The folder in your hand and your purposeful walking will make people believe that you are actually on your way to do something. You should take this time to wander around the office and perve on all the attractive people. Possibly even rate them all from most doable to least doable in your mind. You can also strike up a conversation with other like minded individuals around the office.

Working on the Penski file can take up a good part of your afternoon. Once you have established relationships with various people in all the far flung corners of the office you can really take your time getting around visiting each one. This is a great way to get through another hour and a half of your afternoon.

Once the Penski file has been updated you are then getting onto my favourite part of the day. The afternoon sabbatical.

The toilet is a vastly undervalued resource in an office. It is one of the last bastions of personal freedom where one can really be alone with their thoughts without fear of reprimand or prying eyes. Be sure to be seen by the boss before taking off for your afternoon sabbatical, then grab your phone and saddle up for a 45 minute solo journey. The smartphone is especially handy here. It allows you to keep in contact with the outside world and also works as an alarm to wake you from your slumber. NOTE - be careful when getting up. It is not uncommon for your legs to go to sleep in this situation and you don’t want anyone coming in to investigate what that thud in the toilet was and finding you on the ground with your pants around your ankles trying to get up.

This should just about see you through your "working" day. From here you will duck off for another smoke or two and surf the net some more. For those more adventurous amongst you who might like to duck off for a quick afternoon beer, that option is also available. Just be sure to walk past the boss's desk before leaving and upon return so it doesn't look as though you have gone anywhere. Possibly toss a compliment his way in the process.

If you look at the clock then that is only about 35 mins of actual work time completed. This allows for those other times when it might take you a little longer to get through certain tasks.

You will sometimes find there are unavoidable work related activities - long boring meetings for example. This is what sick days were made for. I would suggest attending the meetings as there is normally food there however make up for it by calling in sick the following day.

Aim to complete this day in day out and you have now been freed from the tyranny of the working week. Embrace your new life!

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