“There’s a myth that time is money. In fact, time is more precious than money. It’s a non-renewable resource. Once you’ve spent it, and if you’ve spent it badly, it’s gone forever.” Neil A. Fiore
What Exactly is a Digital Nomad?
A digital nomad is someone who works remotely using mobile devices, wi-fi spots, and cloud-based applications in order to perform their responsibilities. This style of work provides them with a high-level of flexibility that allows for a preferred work-life balance as well as location independence, meaning they can work where and when they want.
While being a digital nomad can significantly help you to limit your working hours, it can also come with its own unique set of challenges. For example, if you plan on traveling a lot, you may face difficulties in finding a quality internet connection.
Even though this concept is becoming more popular, you may also come up against managers and business owners who wholeheartedly still believe in the 40-hour workweek.
Let’s take a look at why this widely-accepted practice may be hard for some to leave behind.
Our Workaholic Society
The truth is that we have a history of being workaholics. But what if time and money were no object? This is something that most of us can only dream about.
In 1890, the U.S. government began tracking worker’s hours. The average workweek for full-time manufacturing employees was a whopping 100 hours. I can’t imagine working shifts like that.
Over seventy-five years ago, on October 24, 1940, the eight-hour day and 40-hour workweek became standard practice in a range of industries. It was a long, drawn-out battle between workers and government officials.
With the invention of the internet, we have gone through a technological revolution and created a world that fits perfectly with being a digital nomad. We can be plugged into work everywhere we go. However, in this new age of technology, we also have increased debts, more wants to be fulfilled, and more work to be done.
Flashing lights on our phones continually need to be addressed and maintained, notifications on social media and emails need to be answered constantly. Project lists seem to never end, which can lead to burn out.
The Move to Promote a Level of Health and Happiness Amongst All Working People
It seems like we have gone through many stages. Before industrial society, we were like small colonies of worker ants, working as a tight-knit community of maybe a hundred people.
Then we became industrialised, where we created factories and systems to make the worker ants more productive. This is when the “rat race” was born. We started to sell and market goods to people and playing on their wants and desires rather than what they really needed.
This forced us to spend more and more time at work in the hope of more money, more time, and more freedom for the things we truly value. Personally, I now firmly believe that time is more important than money.
There is a small majority who are learning to do things differently than the traditional way of working.
They want to escape the rat race, but they also want to have abundance, freedom, and time to do the things they enjoy. They are doing this by harnessing the technological revolution to become location-independent workers.
What do these digital nomads know that we may not? Does this new era also have its pitfalls? How can we define the lines between what is work and what is play?
Why & How Did The 40 Hour Work Week Begin?
It started with the Industrial Revolution in the U.K. Robert Owen introduced the 10-hour day in 1810. This was later shortened to eight hours a day, which is where the “9-5” concept comes from. I know that when I worked 9 – 5 my concentration started to wander if I needed to do any overtime.
Karl Marx, the founder of the communist ideology, talks about shorter working days in Das Kapital:
“By extending the working day, therefore, capitalist production…not only produces a deterioration of human labour power by robbing it of its normal moral and physical conditions of development and activity, but also produces the premature exhaustion and death of this labour-power itself.”
What Do We Truly Value: Money, Work or Time?
What we miss most in our lives usually becomes the most important need. If we feel that we don’t have enough money, this takes centre-stage. Take this values test to see what is most important to you.
Is The 40-Hour Workweek Obsolete?
The average German worker puts in 394 fewer hours than the average American every year. That’s equivalent to 49 eight-hour days annually. Obviously, this hasn’t affected Germany’s economy, since it’s the 4th largest economy in the world. This means that Germans are using their time very efficiently, especially compared to Americans.
Sweden and Norway also maintain strong economies despite working fewer hours, on average, than most other developed nations.
Nevertheless, 40-hour workweeks remain standard in America and many other countries. But who knows how many hours we’ll work per week in the future?
Recent research suggests that the 40-hour workweek may be on its way out — at least among professionals and executives.
The Concept of the 4-Hour Workweek
Author, entrepreneur, and well-known speaker, Tim Ferriss challenges us to forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, or earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, his book The 4-Hour Workweek, is the blueprint.
Has the technological revolution freed us to work from anywhere at any time? Can we leverage people and systems from all around the world to improve our efficiency?
Tim has created a step-by-step guide to a luxury lifestyle. His book has several key points, and it explains:
• How Tim went from $40,000 per year and 80 hours per week to $40,000 per month and 4 hours per week
• How to outsource your life to overseas virtual assistants for $5 per hour and do whatever you want
• How blue-chip escape artists travel the world without quitting their jobs
• How to eliminate 50% of your work in 48 hours using the principles of a forgotten Italian economist
• How to trade a long-haul career for short work bursts and frequent “mini-retirements”
Can We Make The 4-Hour Workweek a Possibility?
The 4-Hour Workweek concept has created its own revolution, and people are already taking on this new trend. The key question is: can we change the “old” way of thinking to embrace working in this way?
The change has to start somewhere, and there are plenty of successful examples out there to draw from. What’s being called the “gig” economy is making waves, and it follows the very same concept of using technology to work when you want and spend time doing what you love.
If you’re already at a job where you’re working 40 hours or more a week, consider bringing these concepts to your manager to discuss. Just starting the conversation is one more step in the right direction to regaining some of your free time. Maybe suggest ideas such as implementing flex hours or working one day a week from home on a trial basis and see how it goes. The point is that you have to start somewhere and you’ll never know until you ask.
The “work-life balance” seems to be a thing of the past, as more people become digital nomads and leverage work to fit around their lifestyles — a positive step, in my opinion. However, it’s also important to note that we all need time away from technology and set boundaries for when to work and when to step away and enjoy life.
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