A black briefcase on a teal background, topped with a whimsical miniature beach umbrella and chair setup.

Although things are pretty quiet at the moment, I usually average around 20 hours of paid work per week. When I tell them, people seem surprised at this, but when you strip away the pointless meetings, bureaucracy, and frustration that can come with regular employment, it’s entirely possible to (in normal times) earn a decent salary working half the number of hours.

This article shares the case of Josh Epperson, who works 10-15 hours per week and earns ~$100k/year after starting what he calls ‘The Experiment’. On a side note, I’m also sharing the image that comes with the article to comment how lazy it is: who uses a briefcase in 2024? Also, as the article mentions explicitly, Epperson is spending the time he’s not working doing community stuff, not lazing on the beach.

For me, I spend a lot of time on the side of football pitches and basketball courts. I’m almost always around for my kids, because I work from home and try and get most of my work done while they’re at school. This, to my mind, is the way it should be. Apart from school, but that’s a whole other post…

Epperson began The Experiment by scaling back the obligations on his time and money. He resigned from his role on the board of a Black film festival. He moved out of his swanky apartment to a cheaper part of Richmond and traded in his Land Rover for a Honda CR-V. Despite these downgrades, his new path came with advantages. Epperson prepared his meals and ate more healthily. He spent unhurried afternoons with friends in the garden. And he got into regular meditation and exercise.

Epperson also saw how the added time benefited his professional life. He started working on projects for the Smithsonian and an urban-farming nonprofit called Happily Natural. With more space around his work, his work got better. “In the old industrial model of employment, the more hours you put in, the more products come out,” he explained. But if the product is an idea for a marketing campaign or a headline for a website, Epperson found that there wasn’t a positive correlation between how many hours he put in and the quality of the output. With more room to seek inspiration and develop his ideas, Epperson was doing more work that made him proud.

What impressed me most from my time with Epperson is that he doesn’t treat leisure only as grist for the mill. He doesn’t unplug so that he can be more productive when he sits back down at his computer. Nor does he, like so many of us, exist in a perpetual state of half-work, swiping down at dinner to see if any new emails have come in.

For Epperson, reducing his working hours gives him the space to invest in other facets of his life. He is involved in his community. He is a generous friend. He takes care of his body. Walking the streets of Richmond with Epperson is like walking next to the mayor—he seemed to know every shopkeeper and skateboarder we passed.

Source: The Atlantic