What’s Wrong With My 40 Hour Work Week

From the outside looking in, my job’s really cushy. I work in this air-conditioned office and is supplied with high-tech tools like a laptop and even an additional monitor. But more importantly, my workstation is strategically located (yeah, nobody can pay a surprise visit from behind). They were even so nice to have issued me a privacy screen filter for my laptop. Awesome!

Furthermore, I am on pretty good terms with my direct supervisor (in case your mind runs wild, she’s old enough to be my mother) and the workload is really manageable considering I rarely work overtime these days. The annual compensation is also pretty generous at around $65,000, an amount which is definitely higher than what the average 27 year old earns.

So what the f*@k are you complaining about, you ungrateful moron! Stop daydreaming about your 15 hour work week. It’s time to repay the faith shown to you by your supervisor/boss/company/country by working 11 hours a day like what a fifth of us do!

The Amount of Time it takes

Fortunately, we live in a society democratic enough for one to choose whether to work or not. Or at the very least, how much he wants to work. And the one BIGGEST problem with my job is the amount of time I spend on it. I actually have to clock 42 hours a week based on my official working hours, amounting to half the time I am awake for 5 days a week.

If you think that’s already a lot, this 42 hours hasn’t even accounted for the indirect time associated with work. The most obvious and time-consuming would be the daily commute. It’s fair to say that on average, most take at least 1.5 hours to travel to and from work, from the doorstep of their house to their workstation and vice versa. And it’s not like we’re getting chauffered around. If you’re driving or taking the bus, there’s the daily jam at PIE/BKE/blablabla road that you worry about. Otherwise, it’s the prospect of the smelly armpit of a sweating passenger that you’re pressed against on the packed MRT.

And how about the time spent to iron those power suits and shirts? Or wash the socks? If the official dress code wasn’t imposed, I am pretty sure most of us wouldn’t really want to wear long sleeved shirts and socks in this hot and humid weather (which really explains the popularity of dress-down Fridays). Once you total up all these niggling indirect time spent outside of the working hours, I am not exaggerating to say that my job actually takes up more than 50 hours of my time each week.

Centre of My Life

I wake up at 6:30am to prepare for work and then get back home at around 6:30pm. A nicely symmetrical 12 hour shift. Since I like to be in bed by 1030pm to *chat* (we are newlyweds, get it?) with my wife for at least half an hour, I actually have about 4 hours left every weekday for other activities. So what options do I have for these few hours?

Swimming in the sun?

Hiking up the hills?

Cycling in the beach?

Out! Out! Out! Wait. These 4 hours of time we have outside of work are in the evenings, after 6:30pm when the sun has already set. It’s the time when we sink into the sofa and swtich on the TV, mostly exhausted after a supposedly productive day in office. These fun and exciting activities I have listed above would then have to be grudgingly reserved for the weekends.

Instead of basking in the glory of the sun and soaking up the wonders of nature in the afternoon, I am required to be shuffling papers in office. In fact, due to the desk-bound nature of my job I rarely see the sun for more than 2 hours every weekday (which still doesn’t help explain why I am fairer than the lady). With the 40 hour work week as the centre of my life, it largely determines/constrains my schedule for the week.

Will you Report for Work tomorrow if you’re not Paid?

There’s some of you who argue that your job can really be fun, engaging and exciting (Really, you don’t have to lie since your boss isn’t behind you). However, it’s really hard for me to imagine someone enjoying a job that requires a commitment of 40 hours. For those who claim to love their job or vocation, I am really curious to find out if they would still report for work tomorrow even if they are not paid a single cent. Kudos to whoever that passes this ultimate litmus test.

Nonetheless, it seems that almost everybody has given up, judging from the frowns I see every morning during rush hour. Many have accepted this status quo and default of a 40 hour work week in exchange for material comfort and societal acceptance. However, I believe that I wasn’t born to live this life of comfortable misery and have even started planning my escape. How about you?


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    14 thoughts on “What’s Wrong With My 40 Hour Work Week

    1. B

      Hi HWW

      Looks like we have a lot in commons 🙂

      We are both 27 years old this year (though I will turn 28 this month end) and are earning enough to sustain our lifestyle and work towards a financial freedom. You are earningslightly more than me though at 65k annually.

      We are also both newly wed couples and I too like to spend some time talking to my wife before bed time.

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi B,

        Yeah, really alot in common. ALthough I might earn slightly more, I guess I am spending almost twice as much as you. The expenditure part is really something I should be working harder on.

        To clarify, I like to sleep early but my wife would always “disturb” me. She’s a late sleeper and so we ending up chatting. =p

        I also recalled that you had written something similar to this post too.


    2. LP

      I think i’m the few rare ones who would do my job for free. My usual hours are less than a typical 42 hour per week though, so I started off good 🙂

      Regarding the chatting part before sleeping, I’ll safely say that it’s not a newly wed phenomenon LOL!

    3. My 15 HWW Post author

      Hi LP,

      That’s really wonderful! Have to admit that there are indeed some who enjoys both their work and working environment. But it’s good to save more and become financially independent as conditions could change?

      And congrats on your loving marriage!

    4. gagmewithaspoon

      i think men are not meant to be sitting in their desk typing furiously on their laptops for 8 hours a day! explains why we are so unhappy at work! honestly, i think most of us took the “safe” route of getting a degree, working in an office bound job and that explains our unhappiness coz we are dissatisfied! coz we yearn for something more… and yet, becuase of our upbringing and kaisu-ism and competitive mindset, we settle for this seemingly risk adverse job.

      1. My 15 HWW Post author


        Paid a visit to your blog and from your last article, it seems that we have a similar outlook.

        That’s why if we manage to save more of our income, we can say goodbye to such a life within 10 years in the rat race.

    5. ted

      Have you tried exercising? It helps a lot, especially since you are introverted and most probably think a lot (all the time?).

      I am slightly older but have experienced these similar thought processes (12hr work shift, 4 hour weekday personal time, weekend to recharge introvert batteries, etc)

      On bad days, this really gets to me and I try (sometimes fail) to use the various mental tools I’ve read about in self-improvement books and my dabbling in buddhist teachings (they have many mental tools for ‘unsatisfactoriness’!)

      On good days, I try to recall my visits to 3rd world countries, and snub myself for such gloriously pitiful “First World Problems” I’m facing… ;p

      10 year plan to exit rat race, I suppose you are aware of ERE (early retirement extreme) and Mr Money Mustache? If not, do check them out.

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi ted,

        Thanks for your suggestions and I am a big fan of MMM and ERE.

        I have also turned to stoic philosophy to worry less and gain perspective to my “problems” for the past few years.

    6. Jasmine

      Hi 15HWW,

      I chanced upon your blog, and am really impressed by your mindset and the way you think! It’s really rare to find young adults with similar thinking and aspiration. Like you, I dream of early retirement and am taking steps towards it. However, unlike you, I was debt ridden but recently got out of it, and only got interested in personal finance/investing a year ago when I was 29.

      Do keep up the good work, I really enjoy reading your posts. Hope you can drop by at my blog too. 🙂



      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi Jasmine,

        Agree with you that there isn’t too many of us. And kudos to you for making drastic changes to your lifestyle! Everybody makes mistakes with their expenditure. I was also a spendthrift with my allowances during my teens too. =p

        What’s more important is gaining the intrinsic motivation needed to improve our personal finances. Things will then become easier and then slowly but surely, you will realise you are much nearer to attaining your goals.

        Actually, I am a regular reader of your blog. (Recall leaving a couple of comments behind on your first few posts too). Female personal finance bloggers are really rare and it helps that you write really well which makes reading them enjoyable.

        Thanks for your encouragement and I will definitely be posting more regularly again in due course!

        1. Jasmine

          Hi 15HWW,

          Wow I’m really flattered that you read my blog, and I’m so sorry for not replying! I’m not exactly that tech savvy and sometimes I missed comments on my blog.

          You write really well too! Think I practically read every single post of yours already during the past few days. Do blog more and I look forward to seeing more of your posts!


    7. Numbers

      Hi, happen to come across your blog and this post.

      Actually, 15HWW is possible and also generate the same or even more than the current salary that you have, if you know the right ingredients and formula to it.

      This is the information age, where the power of the internet, online marketing, online businesses, automated system etc. allows one to have both time and money freedom.

      However, you need to first find what you are really passionate about, create or generate a business out of it, and create automation or automated system for it, then the 15HWW becomes a reality, and the passive income will simply flow in and time freedom is there.

      Most people are very afraid to get out of their comfort zone, hence, will find excuses or give excuses for not pursuing or find other ways to improve on their life, unhappiness or simply to make that change.

      1. My 15 HWW Post author

        Hi Numbers,

        Thanks for your comments and suggestion.

        I am targeting to be able to do the things you have mentioned in a few years’ time. Wish me luck!

        1. Numbers

          You can start now, don’t procrastinate or push it out a few years, esp. if you plan to start a family, it will be even more challenging to manage or squeeze out those precious time to start on those satisfying and fulfilling journey so that you can have more time and money freedom.

          As the saying goes, time and tide wait for no man.