Can you work more than 8 hours a day?

Updated on Oct 21, 2023

By Ewa Nikodem

While you can work more than 8 hours a day, true productivity depends on focus, energy management, and work-life balance, not just total hours worked.

A woman working on a laptop

When you think about the idea of working more than 8 hours a day, a bunch of questions might rush through your mind. Is it possible to work for 8 hours straight, whether you're at home or in the office? Can you work more than 8 hours a day? Can you extend your working hours without compromising productivity? Are you genuinely being productive during those extra hours?

In theory, the answer seems simple: Yes, you can work more than 8 hours a day. However, as with many things in life, there's a 'but.' Let's dive into the complexities of this concept and address all these questions one by one to clear up any doubts you might have.

  1. The 8-hour workday
  2. Defining "work"
  3. Distractions and interruptions
  4. Productivity highs and lows
  5. The "but"
  6. Balance
  7. Conclusion

The 8-hour workday

In theory, the standard 8-hour workday is considered the ideal benchmark for a productive day. But why 8 hours? Is it some sort of magical number? No.

During the industrial revolution, companies wanted to utilize the machines to their maximum potential. People had to work between 10 to 16 hours a day, 6 days a week, but it wasn’t sustainable. In 1926, Henry Ford announced the 8-hour, 5-day work week. This has boosted the productivity of the workers, and since then it has become a norm.

We're conditioned to think 8 hours is ideal. But for many, adhering to this is unrealistic due to individual differences and work environments. With modern tools like ChatGPT and multitasking, we often accomplish more in less time. So should we still define productivity by hours worked?

Defining "work"

How do you define work? Is it just being present for 8 hours? Or is it productive, focused, and meaningful work? Many "work" hours involve non-essential tasks. The time we spend browsing, eating, chatting cuts into quality work time.

Distractions and interruptions

Whether you're working from home or in an office, distractions and interruptions always come up. Meetings, phone calls, notifications, and even the occasional chat with someone can eat up work hours. This leads to the perception that you've worked a full day when, in fact, a significant portion of your time was lost to distractions.

A Study conducted in the UK showed that the vast majority of workers admitted to not being productive throughout the entire work day.

Now, be honest with yourself. How much time do you truly spend on focused work versus reading blogs, scrolling social media, etc.?

Productivity highs and lows

Productivity fluctuates throughout the day. We all have periods when we're at our peak and times when we lose focus. Recognizing these highs and lows is crucial. Trying to extend your work hours beyond your natural productivity window might result in diminishing returns.

We've all tried to push through long hours only to spend far more time finishing with less than ideal results. Resting your mind often allows fresh thinking.

Instead, think about what you can do in the next hour or two. Or even better, pick a main task or a few smaller tasks that you want to get done today. Maybe it will take you 4 hours or 10, but how much time you spend working is less important that achieving your goals.

If you need some tips on how to increase your productivity, you can check out the previous blog posts - Most used productivity hack and Best and worst productivity tips.

The "but"

So, here's the "but".

Yes, you can work more than 8 hours a day, but it's not just about the quantity of hours you put in. It's also about the quality of work you produce during those hours. You have to understand your personal work patterns, limit distractions, and optimize your productivity.


The key to success lies in finding the balance that works best for you.


There's no one-size-fits-all for work hours. Each person is unique, with different energy levels, focus periods, and personal commitments. Instead of prescribing a specific number of hours, focus on finding your own sweet spot.

In the end, the question of whether you can work more than 8 hours a day depends on your individual circumstances and goals. It's crucial to find a balance between productivity and well-being.

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