Matt Heath is a radio host on Radio Hauraki and Herald columnist

Matt Heath: Here's why you should be slacking off at work

Being a workaholic is bad ... after 50 hours productivity slips.
You probably owe it to yourself - and your employer - to work as little as you can. Photo / 123RF
You probably owe it to yourself - and your employer - to work as little as you can. Photo / 123RF

Recently, my 7-year-old son wrote a poem about me. He called it "My Dad" and it went like this. "Dad is super fun, he works all day, Dad goes to work every single day, before I'm up he goes away, to work, on the weekends it's work, work, work. Dad is never mean, Dad is always keen to play cricket in the driveway, but then he goes away. Sometimes he works till dawn, sometimes he wees on the lawn. When he comes home we all cheer, he likes to drink a beer, watches Netflix and goes to bed, then off to work again."

Obviously not everyone can quit their job. Most of us need them. Many of us are struggling just to get by. I was lucky enough to have three jobs so I could easily leave one of them. My main job still starts at 5am. Which is punishing but manageable.

The problem comes when we celebrate time worked over things achieved. Working big hours isn't a virtue in itself. No one's last words are "I wish I'd spent more time in the office".

In fact, you probably owe it to yourself to work as little as you can. At the very least do less work at the work you are at. Leave early, take longer lunches, more smokos.

There are of course a million ways to work and not work. During his time at the New York Yankees, the great George Costanza (in Seinfeld) had some innovative work-reducing techniques. He had a bed built under his desk for sleeping on the job and would leave his car in his work carpark 24/7 so the boss thought he was first to arrive and last to leave.

Studies have actually shown that working lots is not only bad for you, but also for your employer. In a recent article, Jena McGregor claimed that "after about 50 hours a week, productivity decreases, and it plummets after 55 hours, leaving no detectable difference between those who work 56 hours and those who work 70-130". Essentially, if you work over 50 hours a week you're ripping your company off. Maybe employers should start fining their workers an hour's pay for everything over 45.

Kiwis had an easy working life from 1945-79. Fewer hours on the job left more time for Rotary, Lions and swingers clubs.

I would argue any more than 40 is too much. That was the maximum in the old days. Kiwis had an easy working life from 1945-79. Fewer hours on the job left more time for Rotary, Lions and swingers clubs. There were heaps of spare hours to spend down the races, doggies, rugby clubs or local masonic lodge. Nowadays everyone works too long, achieves way less, does nothing for the community and whinges constantly.

There's no doubt that working a healthy amount is good for the soul. A bit of structure in your life is great. But it's easy to accidentally work too much. When your family and friends see you simply as a working machine you have to make a change. Obviously we can't quit completely. But we can all do a little less in the job we have. Your community, family, friends and employer will thank you if you slack off around 50-70 per cent.

- NZ Herald

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Matt Heath is a radio host on Radio Hauraki and Herald columnist

Matt Heath is a breakfast radio host on Radio Hauraki, and a television producer, writer and director. He made a name for himself with Back of The Y Masterpiece Television, Balls of Steel UK and the feature film The Devil Dared Me To. Matt was guitarist and singer for the band Deja Voodoo which released two top twenty albums. He is currently a producer on Best Bits, a cricket commentator for The Alternative Commentary Collective, and the director of Vinewood Motion Graphics. Matt is a father of two living in Auckland City.

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