Is working long and hard a good or a bad thing? Our man Jay gets his travel companions to sort out his dilemma.

Jay Reeve

We recently laid my last remaining grandparent to rest one week shy of his 91st birthday –one of the greats and the end of a generation. At the funeral, everyone spoke of his work ethic, attention to detail and high standards. A dairy farmer, he’d worked long and hard to provide for his wife and six children. He ‘retired’ to Mt Maunganui, where he’d maintained that working lifestyle; the journey was something you just had to do to get to the final destination. In my eulogy, I noted that his work ethic has become somewhat diluted in my generation. Some think that’s good, some don’t.

Timothy Ferriss wrote his book The 4-Hour Workweek just over a decade ago, but it’s as relevant now as it was then. I couldn’t begin to do it justice by trying to encapsulate what’s inside its cover, but I strongly suggest you read it (or listen to it while commuting to Auckland each week to do voiceovers in a studio).

What I can do is highlight a couple of key points that appealed to me and my situation. What I wanted was more time for meaningful connections with those I love, so I moved to the Mount last year so I could see more of my family and friends. When my sons head off to primary school next year, my ‘time currency’ with them will change, so I’m spending it as hard as I can at the moment. Did you know that by the time children leave secondary school, some parents will have spent around 80% of the total time they’ll spend with them
in their lifetime?

The 4-Hour Workweek gives great examples of how to structure your days so you can be more efficient and cut out the things that tax your time the hardest. It might be as simple as only checking emails between 1pm and 4pm and turning on your out-of-office reply the rest of the time, giving a number to call if it’s urgent. That could save you hours of back-and-forth emailing.

Or you could try retiring every year, as opposed to setting your sights on 65 and jumping on the government-run ponzi scheme. Waiting for a special occasion is great, but isn’t being alive and well a special enough occasion to celebrate? Every month, you could plan inexpensive adventures for you, your partner, your children and your buddies. I know we
all work so we can afford the things we want because stuff is cool, but surely time is better. I’d much rather earn $500 a week and be time rich than work 60 hours a week and earn $5000 – at this stage of my life, anyway.

The long, unedited conversations of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast often see me fired me off down rabbit holes trying to understand my stance on complicated matters and learning more about important things like tolerance. Seth Godin is another smart guy who delivers easy-to-understand, impactful lessons on his podcast, like: You can’t be angry and curious at the same time. Instead of thinking, ‘That’s a stupid thing to say’ and allowing your brain to drop into fight-or-flight mode, you can think, ‘I wonder how this person came to that conclusion?’ It’s all a bit Thai-fisherman-pants-and-crystal-deodorant-wearer, I know. But I’m here to enjoy life, not to be miserable or angry at someone who doesn’t know or even care that I’m mad at them.

All this thinking, learning and reflection has happened since I moved to the Bay of Plenty. Like many of us transitioning our lives down to the beach, some of my work is still up in Auckland; most weeks, I make the six-hour round trip north to record voiceovers. Initially, that trip seemed like a curse, but it’s actually been a blessing. In the past nine months, I’ve listened to more informed opinions, consumed more information and done more questioning in those six hours than in the preceding nine years. Tim, Joe, Seth and all their other clever mates have been my travel buddies, and boy has it made a difference to my life. They’ve encouraged solid reflection, changed the way I behave in my personal and business relationships and made me ask what I’m doing, and why.

Am I a lazy role model to my children, because I don’t spend every waking moment at work like my grandfather did? I think it’s better to spend this time I’m so lucky to have making memories with the people who matter most to me.

In the end, your time is yours – yours to place value on and yours to spend. Today, more than ever, we’re able to achieve almost anything – it’s all at our fingertips and it’s just a matter of determining what you value. If you have a final destination in mind, being able to break up the journey to get there becomes the exciting part.

All this reflection has led me to question my working week. When I mentioned that I wanted to look at a home-studio set-up to reduce the time spent away from my family, everyone at the studio, my clients and agent have gone over and above to help make that a reality. So those weekly six-hour philosophy seminars that have created so much positive change in my life may well be brought to a close.

Podcasts Jay’s listening to:

The Joe Rogan Experience: A free podcast of long-form conversations with comedian, actor, sports commentator and TV host Joe and guests.

Seth Godin’s Startup School: A thought leader in the marketing and business world, Seth talks leadership, entrepreneurship and more.