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How to work a 16 hour day

Last updated: 12 April 2022

How to work a 16 hour day

The British are European leaders in working long hours but how do we manage it? There are many factors but here are some examples you may recognize from an office near you.



  • keep busy by putting unimportant things off
  • open all your mail read it and deal with the 2 or 3 urgent things now. Sort the rest by importance and place it in relevant areas of you desk with yesterday’s less important stuff to review later
  • keep interesting publications to hand on your desk and as much of the one next to yours as you can get away with so you can read it later
  • dedicate time at the end of each week to locate and sort out your expense receipts so you can get on with more important things now
  • go through the next most important pile of mail again and deal with some of it and prioritise the rest onto the other piles



  • get comfortable and stick with the plan you’re going to be here all day
  • keep a separate file for everything so that when you look it wont be mixed up with other stuff
  • personalise your limited working area so that you feel at home, pictures, personal office equipment and pet projects all help to make you feel comfortable
  • never under any circumstances change your filing system. It used to work extremely well when you started this job


Planning and prioritisation

  • stay focused on today – you’ll be busy again tomorrow
  • never take a break from the desk – it won’t look good and only wimps get tired and bored
  • make sure everybody knows when the meetings will start but don’t tell anybody when they will finish – there is a lot to do and it’s hard to get people together again
  • every job is important or you wouldn’t be involved – they are all a priority
  • the purpose of being at work is to be busy keeping the wheels turning
  • focus on today because what ever you do there will be something unexpected in the morning
  • don’t leave any gaps in your diary or somebody will fill them
  • keep all the projects close to hand so that when you get 5 minutes you can pick one up


Working practices

  • look after colleagues, help them and leave difficult jobs till last
  • answer every phone call immediately, listen to what is wanted, explain why you are too busy right now and tell them to call you back
  • big jobs are best left until you have a serious period of time to tackle them
  • books and magazines are valuable objects and shouldn’t be written on or damaged
  • make lots of notes at meetings so you know what everybody is supposed to do in case they forget
  • do what comes up at the time and always respond to emails immediately and copy in everybody who might be interested
  • be helpful, if colleagues need a hand just stop what you’re doing and help them
  • it is vital that you always say yes to additional workload it’s good for your career and there is always room for an urgent task


part 2 – How you can work a 5 hour day >

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