The Four Hour Day

It was in 1955 that ‘Harpers’ published a little book written by a New York City career consultant, William J. Reilly, with the intriguing title: “How to Make Your Living in Four Hours a Day Without Feeling Guilty About It.” I imagine it’s long out of print now.

In it, Doctor Reilly wrote that to most people, making a living means working at a job that keeps them occupied from thirty-five to forty hours a week in return for a wage or a salary they can live on. It never dawns on them that they can make a living in much less time than that – that the real problem of making a living is to earn the money you need in the shortest possible time, using your imagination to produce something of value that other people need and want and are glad to pay you for.

Consequently, Doctor Reilly continues, most people in our society are not nearly as creative as they could be. They just go through the motions of the job. They do what they have to and no more. They waste a large share of their time daydreaming, watching the clock, wishing that days were done. Because they think of “putting in a certain number of hours” instead of “producing something of value,” there people never really develop the creative talents they have. And the loss to society is enormous.

They lose, their employers lose, and society in general loses the great wealth that could flow from these creative minds if they would only avoid…well – that’s the gist of what the good Doctor Reilly has to say in his little book. That people tend to think of work as a matter of putting in hours, time, rather than of producing something of value.

And Doctor Reilly states that is you’re an executive, or a creative worker of any sort, such as an artist, writer, researcher, inventor, composer, producer… and so on… you’re probably making serious mistake if you attempt to work more than about six hours a day. He claims that a creative person who works longer than four to six hours isn’t giving himself enough time to digest his problems and subconsciously solve them in the leisurely way problems have to be solved. He says that: “We have found with monotonous regularity that any time a creative worker gets so busy doing things that he hasn’t enough time to adequately think about – while he’s doing them – he doesn’t get many good creative ideas… and creative ideas is the name of the game. He just gets tired.”

Studies indicate that even though a creative worker is able to work for approximately six hours a day or even more without losing his creativity, it is not a good idea for him to make a general practice of pressing himself to this limit. It is far better for him to work about four hours a day, for then he’s really on top of his job and able to give it the very best that’s in him, as well as approach maximum productivity and effectiveness. And, under these conditions, he always has reserve power to meet the occasional emergency in top-flights form.

So then all the results of such studies show that if a creative worker works more than six hours a day, he’s very likely defeating his own purposes.  He’s got to rid himself of the guilt feelings associated with putting in less time than most people d actually at work.

It’s something to think about…… to think creatively about.

In summing up, there is an excellent chance that you can be of more value to yourself, your family, and to society, if you can find a way to be tremendously effective four hours a day, instead of just putting in time.

By: Earl Nightingale

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