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Is an 8-Hour Work Day Right for You?

Deciding to work an 8-hour work day from home depends on your own goals, your work pace and your personal motivation. One of the benefits of working from home is that you can design your own schedule, which means that, as long as work is completed, there are no set rules for when or how this is done. While the 8-hour work day is what most full-time jobs consist of, this wasn’t always the case. Consider for a moment just how this schedule came to be.

The Birth of the 8-Hour Work Day

A little more than a century ago, full-time workers in the manufacturing industry worked an average of 100 hours per week. This, of course, is a far cry from an 8-hour work day full-time employees work today. Other workers, who weren’t employed by the manufacturing industry, still worked an average of 10 hours per day.

The shift in daily hours happened as Knights of Labor groups began to form all over the United States leading movements of general strikes in favor of better working conditions, as well as shorter days. After the market crash of 1873, unemployment rose dramatically and, at this same time, a decline in wages was also felt. It was believed that reducing to an 8-hour work day would help decrease unemployment by better distributing hours among more workers.

By 1886, the Knights of Labor’s membership had grown to more than 700,000 members nationwide and strikes in favor of shorter hours took on a new fervor. “Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest and eight hours for what you will” was a popular slogan of the growing 8-hour work day movement during the late 1800’s.

While several laborers were killed by police after scuffles broke out between strikers and those crossing strike lines, four more protesters were hanged to death after being convicted of a bombing at the Haymarket Square Rally in Chicago. Following these intense protests, which included bloodshed, nationwide, the 8-hour work day was finally born.

Your Personal Work at Home Schedule

As you can see from the history detailed above, an 8-hour work day was what workers felt they needed in order to survive a tough economic atmosphere, as well as to ensure balance between work, rest and personal time. In modern times, as employees work a variety of different days and shifts, and while more people are opting for self-employment, the traditional 8-hour work day may or may not work for everyone. Certainly, if you are self-employed or are able to design your own work at home schedule, these rules needn’t automatically apply to you.

Whether you opt for the standard 8-hour work day or whether you set different hours, when designing your schedule, here are a few things to consider:

  • Approximately how many hours of work are needed to help you accomplish your personal and financial goals?
  • What days and hours can you realistically work without interruptions or distractions?
  • Must you perform all duties yourself, or can some of your work be outsourced in order to maximize your productivity? (In his book, the 4-Hour Work Week, author Timothy Ferriss gives great advice on outsourcing tasks while trimming hours and increasing productivity.)
  • Will you work all of your hours at once or would it benefit you to organize your day in sections (e.g. Work Monday through Friday from 5a to 7a and again from 12p to 3p)?
  • Will you work weekends?
  • What days and hours are you NOT available for work? (Hint: be sure to allow room for family time, housework, appointments and personal errands, as well as for rest and relaxation)

Once you begin to earn money working at home, you will also want to consider whether the hours that you are working are justified by what you are earning.

A traditional 8-hour work day can be productive, but is not mandatory for success. Many who work from home do work fewer hours, while many others work far more! The bottom line is that this is your personal schedule and it does not have to look like anyone else’s. It should be based on your own realistic goals and expectations, as well as upon what you can actually manage while maintaining a comfortable personal and home life.

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