Let’s just start by saying one of the most frequent complaints I hear on a regular basis is that there just isn’t enough time in a day!
I am sure that many of you reading this genuinely believe you work hard…. and I am equally sure that many of you do.
But let’s put some relativity around this for a moment.
In both Bali & Thailand for example, areas heavily reliant on the tourism trade, it is not uncommon to find some people working 12 or even 14 hours a day and to repeat that seven days a week. And whilst the Thai government may have introduced labour laws to restrict the work week from Monday to Saturday for a maximum of 48 hours per week, often times in many Asian countries these practices are not always well policed or controlled. And whilst in Australia for example, it is common practice to have 4 weeks paid annual leave, in some Asian countries it is not uncommon for people to only take one or two days off each year. Speaking to a salesman in Singapore about working hours I was informed that in Singapore office workers generally worked Mon-Fri and a half-day Saturday, and sales people, retail, and hospitality usually worked the full 6 day week.
In fact, in the latest Singaporean Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s (or perhaps it should be renamed to “People power” to be more PC?) quarterly Labour Market report, it was revealed that Singapore has an average of 2389.4 hours worked in 2014. That is equivalent to an almost 50-hour working week over a 48 week period (assuming 4 weeks annual leave).
In comparison according to the ABS (http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6202.0) in the month of June 2016:
Employment increased 8,300 to 11,933,400 working persons (and yes for those good at maths that means that out of the approximately 24,138,141 people in Australia right now only about 50% are working)
Monthly hours worked in all jobs decreased 0.7 million hours to 1,635.1 million hours.
So if we multiply the June hourly figures by 12 and then divide by 48 weeks (again to cater for 4 weeks annual leave) the average Aussie is working on average 34.3 hours per week compared to the almost 50 hours by our Singaporean neighbours.
The study highlighted above continues to place Singapore in the number one position in the longest working hours in the world. Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also had this word of caution for any Singaporeans thinking about taking their foot off the pedal:
“IF YOU LOOK AT OTHER COUNTRIES: VIETNAM, CHINA, EVEN IN INDIA, THEY’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT WORK-LIFE BALANCE; THEY ARE HUNGRY, ANXIOUS, ABOUT TO STEAL YOUR LUNCH. SO I THINK I’D BETTER GUARD MY LUNCH.” – LEE HSIEN LOONG
So here are 3 Important points I want to make about work hours?
- Whether we like it or not, Australia is a part of a much larger Global Economy. That means that countries with lower labour costs, less rigid industrial laws, or those economies with greater entrepreneurial drive & innovation, are going to better placed to provide certain types of goods and services over time. This is why Australia will struggle to have a car manufacturing industry in the foreseeable future, and why even countries like China, who historically have manufactured much of the world’s consumer products are now being displaced in product lines such as textiles & clothing by countries with cheaper labour costs such as Vietnam, India or Cambodia.
Working smarter does not mean having to work longer hours.
Not surprisingly, one of the most popular topics in the self-help or personal development fields is time management. That is how can we better manage the time we have. For many people, it is like a badge of honour to tell the world how busy they are… or how little they sleep… or how they are using the latest tool, app, or technology to optimise their time.
Are you really as busy as you think?
Here is an old quote from an article from the Wall Street Journal but just as relevant today…
“There was a time, not so long ago, when I was busy, busy, busy.
At least I thought I was. I told people I worked 60 hours a week. I claimed to sleep six hours a night.
As I lamented to anyone stuck next to me at parties, I was basically too busy to breathe.
Me time? Ha!
My secret? I started keeping track of how I spent my time, logging how many hours and minutes I devoted to different activities such as work, sleep and chores. I soon realised I’d been lying to myself about where the time was going. What I thought was a 60-hour workweek wasn’t even close. I would have guessed I spent hours doing dishes when in fact I spent minutes. I spent long stretches of time lost on the Internet or puttering around the house, unsure exactly what I was doing.”
Let’s get real here. Instead of spending all that time complaining about how busy we are have you ever stopped and asked yourself, “how is it that other people can appear to get so much more done in the same 168 hours/week that you do”? Let me offer a few practical solutions to becoming more EFFECTIVE with your time and making your time on this planet more rewarding:
- Better Time Management has nothing to do with time, and everything to do with your priorities!
There are some mathematical truths we all share. There are only 24 hours in a day or 168 hours in a week. That cannot change. What can change is how, or on what, we choose to spend that time. The problem for most people is that they have never sat down and worked out what their priorities actually are. If I asked 100 random people “what are the 3 most important things in life?” I would likely get a variety of responses but in no particular order, it is likely that the answers I would receive could be condensed down to some combination of love, health, happiness, faith, family etc.
So what are your Top 3 priorities? Go on write them down?
Now let’s get real! It has been said that you will consistently spend the most time doing those things that are most important to you. So if you say that family is the most important thing to you, but you spend every waking hour at work, then it is not. If you say that health is your number one priority and you don’t eat well or have not exercised since the 6th grade then health is not amongst your highest priorities.
“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” ― Stephen R. Covey
Have you ever heard the saying “If you want something done, give it to a busy person!”?What does that actually mean? Well there a couple of different ways to think about it:
Busy people could be seen to be efficient, reliable and effective with a good sense of how long things should take to complete. They may further be focused on producing results and on completing tasks. Given their experience in getting lots done, they know how much they can fit in any given day or week, and how much they’ve currently got on their plates. If they take something on, it’s because they’ve thought about how long it will take, they’ve looked at the amount of available time, and have calculated if it will work. or
Busy people are busy because they have never taken the time to work out what is IMPORTANT to them and do not have the ability to say “ NO!” to things or tasks, independent of whether they should be doing them or not.
See herein lies the rub, with many of the time management teachings out there. The most productive people I know spend more time thinking about WHAT to work on as opposed to HOW to work on them. Whereas lower-productivity people do exactly the opposite, blindly working on HOW to get things done without first deciding WHAT is worth their time.
In other words, you can become highly efficient, but if you’re working on the wrong things, it actually doesn’t matter how efficient you are.
- As with TIME MANAGEMENT, there are many parallels with your INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT.
Why are you actually investing in the first place?
How much of your own time do you want to dedicate towards your investment education and results?
How will your investment results enable you to achieve your highest priorities in life?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter!.
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Matt has successfully transitioned from establishing and operating a string a successful health & wellness businesses, to being a full-time property investor & developer. Matt has been involved in the development of well over $100M worth of residential real estate. Matt is a sought after presenter and educator covering all areas of real estate & regularly wows audiences across Australasia with his knowledge and passion.
Matt’s Special Asia Feature:
Wednesday 31 August: How Unaffordable Is Australian Property On A Global Scale?
Thursday 1 September: What Does Asia Think About Australia (and Australians)?
Friday 2 September: What Can We Do To Benefit From The “Asian Century”?