How many hours a day do you work?

Did you know that Charles Dickens would write from nine until two? Anthony Trollope, another British author, had a day job, so he wrote first thing in the morning from 5.30-8.00, resulting in 40 pages a week for his latest novel. Working this way, he published 47 novels. Moving to modern day times, Stephen King has a strict routine too.   Four hours of focused work seems to be the magic number.

I discovered these fascinating tidbits because I am reading the book Rest: Why you get more done when you work less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. In his book he gives tons of examples of successful writers, entrepreneurs, inventors who, through a disciplined life style, have achieved much in a limited amount of time (4 hours) each day.

His argument is that we don’t have to work so hard to achieve what we want out of life. We need to lighten up and literally smell the roses. As I read through the stories he is sharing, there are some common threads.

Most of the individuals get up early. They have a routine. They exercise. They walk. They get a good night’s sleep and, I was thrilled to read – they take naps. I know just a twenty-minute shut-eye does wonders for me.

The power of walking in terms of creativity, problem solving and just thinking through stuff is emphasized – walking meetings are encouraged. Getting into nature stirs our creative juices.

Now much of this, if we are being honest, we already know. We know we should get a certain amount of sleep, eat well, etc… But do we do it?

This is the first book of twenty-four in Michael Hyatt’s Leadership Box, a program I have treated myself to as I want to be more focused in my reading. As I read the posts on the discussion group, I am surprised at how many are working 80-hour weeks on a regular basis. To me that’s a recipe for burnout.

And social media, our i-phones need to get a rest too.   They are part of this 24/7 culture we have fallen into.

What I like about this concept of four hours of work/day is it removes the guilt when you do something that’s not strictly work-related – like going to the gym, reading a book, or taking a long walk. According to Pang, this falls under rest, something we can all do.   If we let ourselves.

Take a look at your schedule.  Could you do four hours of concentrated work and then rest?  Try it.  You might be surprised at how much more you get done and how much better you feel.

Anne Day

Anne Day

Company of Women

I have had an eclectic career from running non-profit organizations and being editor of a national magazine, to working for government on women’s issues. In 2003 I launched Company of Women, an organization that supports women in business. A prolific blogger, I also write for the Huffington Post, and several other online publications. I am the author of five books on women and entrepreneurship, and co-author of Good Enough. Embrace who you are. Unleash your brilliance. which is available on In June, 2016 I launched Full Circle Publishing offering one-stop services to get your words out into the world.