Worklife Balance and Brain Injury with Joe Sanoch

November 15, 2021
The TBI Therapist Podcast with Dr. Jen Blanchette and Joe Sanoch

Episode #2: Worklife Balance and Brain Injury with Joe Sanoch. During this conversation, Joe talks about his new book Thursday is the New Friday.  We talk about how to optimize your schedule and work less! Most importantly, we discuss how our expectations of our ability to work more hours or do more things doesn’t make us more productive or achieve more, even before a brain injury or the pandemic for that matter. 

Meet Joe: 

Joe Sanok is the author of Thursday is the New Friday: How to work fewer hours, make more money, and spend time doing what you want. It examines how the four-day workweek boosts creativity and productivity. Joe has been featured on Forbes, GOOD Magazine, and The Smart Passive Income Podcast. He is the host of the popular The Practice of the Practice Podcast, which is recognized as one of the Top 50 Podcasts worldwide with over 100,000 downloads each month. Bestselling authors, experts, scholars, and business leaders and innovators are featured and interviewed in the 550 plus podcasts he has done over the last six years.

Things we discussed: 

  • How the 5 day workday is a somewhat new creation. The industrialist model tells us that productivity is best and anything that is “unproductive” should be cut out.  We don’t believe that people are machines anymore.  We know that people work differently.  
  • That when we work 40 hours a week, we really aren’t productive.  After the 30 hour mark, we lose productivity. 
  • We discuss the great resignation over the pandemic, where many of us are asking ourselves why we are working the way we are working. 
  • Listen to what you need in your work life balance, homelife, and break the system! 


Takeaway #1

Make hard and soft boundaries around your weekend.  What is one thing that you can do to bring yourself joy over the weekend? What is one thing that you can take away that is draining your energy?

Takeaway #2

We don’t do our best work when we are burned out or stressed out.  Bend the system until it breaks! Fight for your needs from your family, work place, etc.

More From Joe

Joe Sanok – Speaker, Author of Thursday is the New Friday, Business Consultant, Podcaster

More from Jen

Speaker 0 00:00:01 Have you ever thought that there was no end to the things on your list that people are asking way too much of you today on the program, we talk with author Joe Sand. Joe is the author of Thursday is The New Friday, How to Work Fewer Hours, Make More Money, and Spend Time Doing What you want. Don’t we all want that in the podcast today? We talk about the hard and soft boundaries around your weekend. We also talk about the concept of bending until it breaks or keep pushing against the limits until that system breaks. Because if we don’t do that, no one else will take care of our own needs. And also don’t make dinner. You don’t have to do that. Well, some of us might, but if we need a break that it’s okay to take a break. We had a funny moment today on the podcast related to that. So please cozy up. Let’s take a listen. Joe is the host of a popular podcast that I’ve been listening to for years, which is Practice of the Practice Podcast, which is recognized as one of the top 50 podcasts worldwide with over a hundred thousand downloads. I am super honored to have Joe on our program today.
Speaker 0 00:01:29 Hi everyone. Welcome to the TBI Therapist podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Jen Bishot, where we explore the heart of brain
Speaker 1 00:01:40 Injury.
Speaker 0 00:01:50 Hey Joe, welcome to the TBI Therapist podcast. How are you doing today?
Speaker 3 00:01:54 I’m doing great, Jen. Thanks so much for having me.
Speaker 0 00:01:57 Awesome. Well it’s great to have you. I just wanted to hear a little bit about your new book. I’m super interested in hearing about how people, especially in my audience, can do less work actually and get more done and not tax their brain as much. Cuz my folks tend to have a concussion or a brain injury. And I just think people in general, I’m learning that we need to shorten our workday and really spend time where we wanna spend time with family, with friends, and maybe doing like fun stuff too, like, you know,
Speaker 3 00:02:33 <laugh>. Yeah, yeah. You know, I think for us to understand kinda where we’re headed, um, it’s helpful to understand where we’ve been and how we got here. Um, and so even just thinking about how did we get the way that we view time, the 40 hour work week, and really what’s shifting away from the industrialist model, which I think especially for your audience that’s had a tbi, it it’s actually expanding, um, beyond just seeing people as robots that will follow instructions. And so even we go back, say 4,000 years or so to the Babylonians, uh, the Babylonians made up the seven day week. Uh, they just looked up to the sky and they saw the sun, the moon, they saw the earth, they saw Mars, Jupiter, Mercury and Venus, and they said, Let’s make seven. Uh, the Egyptians had an eight day week, the Romans had a 10 day week.
Speaker 3 00:03:18 So if we just start with the seven day week is completely arbitrary. We just as easily could have a five day week and 73 weeks in a year. Uh, so start there. Fast forward to the late 18 hundreds, early 19 hundreds. The average person was working 10 to 14 hours a day, six to seven days a week. Uh, and so a ton of just working all the time. And then in 1926, Henry Ford instituted the 40 hour work week just to sell more cars to Ford employees. He had this idea that people weren’t gonna buy a car to get to work faster, but if they had the weekend off, well then, you know, they’d actually go have fun and wanna do it quicker. So they’d buy a car, which they did. So then the 40 hour work week, less than a hundred years ago, really takes off.
Speaker 3 00:03:58 So then fast forward to the pandemic of 2020 and globally, we have this reevaluation of how we work. And the industrialist model really, uh, that was like the final nail in the coffin. Uh, and the reason that I start there is that the industrialist model teaches us that we’re machines that, um, that we’re part of an assembly line, that productivity and efficiency is best, and that any fat, uh, that’s not productive, we need to cut out. In a lot of ways, that was a gift to humanity in the early 19 hundreds because they were working just so much. It was a good step at the time. But we’ve outgrown that model and, and that’s where thinking about your audience, thinking about the diversity of how people think and the way that they wanna work, um, that, that industrialist model of saying, you need to fit in this box.
Speaker 3 00:04:43 None of us believe that people are machines anymore. None of us look at our friendships and just say, I only have this for the function of the friendship. No, we see the diversity within it. We see the ways that people think differently. Uh, we know that people learn differently, that they understand differently, that they have different traumas that have happened in their life that has rewired their brain in a way they maybe don’t like. Um, and so now that we’re leaving that industrialist era, it actually provides a huge opportunity for us as the post pandemic generation to say, What didn’t we now want moving forward? Instead of just going back to the old way that it was.
Speaker 0 00:05:17 Hmm. Oh my gosh, there’s so much in that. I just wanna dig into all of it. <laugh>. Yeah, I mean, I think just trying to reframe what, what we really want and how the week is arbitrary and you know, especially, you know, I’m thinking in the lens of someone with a brain injury who, you know, they’re like, I should be working 40 hours a week. Like that’s, why can’t I do that now? Like, I have to get back to the 40 hours. So in their minds it’s like that’s the goal. When if we even look and take that, that bigger picture that you’re kind of going back and looking at that, that it’s, it’s not ideal for us. And I don’t know if any of you are digging into like what is ideal for people? Like where do we function best in a work week? That’s just a thought.
Speaker 3 00:06:07 Yeah. So what’s interesting, I think about the shift is that we’re moving away from a kind of prescription based model where we say, Here’s the five steps to do this. You’re either in or you’re out. Uh, the way that people think about things is a, like, what’s the ideal? What’s the best, what’s the optimized? Um, but we’re finding from the brain research, there’s, there’s ideas that work sometimes and there’s other ideas that work sometimes. And so really shifting to more of a menu based model to say, we’re gonna experiment. We’re gonna try things that work in the research, but then, uh, we’re gonna look at this menu. And in the same way that if you and I, and you know, some friends went out to dinner, we’d order different things. That doesn’t mean that we’re wrong or we haven’t optimized the menu. It just means we have different tastes.
Speaker 3 00:06:48 We have na natural tendencies that are different. And so if we look at what’s the research showing us, for one, we know we’re in the messy middle. Whenever you have a shift in society, we see a lot fall apart and a lot get built and we don’t know where it’s gonna land. So even when Henry Ford starts the 40 hour work week, there were people that were like, That’s crazy. People are working every day. How are we gonna make it on a 40 hour work week? We, we have six, seven days a week that we need done. So it didn’t just take off magically. There was a messy middle that happened in that shift. And right now we’re seeing that, you know, the great resignation, people are resigning from their jobs saying, I am not gonna go back to the way it was. And because you as an industrialist type of thinker won’t adjust, I’m not coming back.
Speaker 3 00:07:28 So we’re seeing that there’s things like that that are happening. We’re seeing the Iceland study that came out just about a month ago, 2,500 people. It was a multi-year study looking at 32 hour work weeks. Uh, overall they were more productive, they were happier, um, they had better health outcomes. Um, and so, you know, when we see these studies emerging and we see that, you know, Spain, Portugal, New Zealand, um, uh, Kickstarter, uh, Microsoft, Japan, all these places that are testing out four day work weeks, um, we’re gonna get emerging research and outcomes to see what works and where. And so some principles that we do see is that 40 hours is not the optimal productivity. The there is a kind of diminishing return, especially around the 30 hour mark. And so why is that? Well, you know, we can focus for only so long. Um, and then we look busy.
Speaker 3 00:08:16 I mean, any of us that have had 40 hour jobs know that there’s no way we’re even close to 70% productive. Um, that you’re walking to meetings, you’re sitting in meetings waiting, you’re listening to someone jab forever about something that you just know is pointless. And I mean, I remember when I worked at a community college, I, I would look around and see, you know, 10 people at the table and I’d be kind of doing the math on how much they probably, you know, made per hour even though they were salaried. And I’m like, this meeting just costs the college a thousand dollars just to like have us sit here and chat about something stupid. Um, and especially if you put a couple of vice presidents in the room, uh, it’s like, is this the most effective use of our time? And so, uh, what we’re seeing is that it really isn’t and that there are more effective ways within the work. Um, but even more importantly, the slowing down is actually showing that that’s where we can get the biggest bang for our buck because people just don’t know how to slow down appropriately to then optimize their brains to then go into the work week. So they end up going into the work week feeling drained, feeling burned out from the weekend and, and not refreshed and ready to go.
Speaker 0 00:09:17 Yeah, yeah. So say, can you say more a little bit about the slowing down? So I’m, I’m also an EDR trained therapist, so I talk with people a lot about how to slow down our nervous systems, how to kind of take a step back. So what have you found in slowing down in your research or personally or anything you wanna just give little nuggets of wisdom to folks about slowing down and what that looks like related to work?
Speaker 3 00:09:45 Yeah, so I would start with that. We don’t do our best work when we’re burned out and stressed out. You know, we intuitively know this. Uh, we have ideas when we’re in the shower or we’re out for a walk or we’re taking a drive and just like listen, not even listening to music. Um, you know, this really came to light for me when I was in Nepal between my undergrad and grad school. So I was at the edge of the Chitwan jungle. My friend Todd and I are there, um, and we’re about to go for this hike in the jungle and our guide says to us, if we get chased by a wild rhino os climb a tree. And in retrospect I should asked a couple follow up questions like what kind of tree can we practice this a little bit? Like, is this a daily occurrence or like a yearly occurrence?
Speaker 3 00:10:23 Like so, but I didn’t ask anything. So we go into the jungle, we’re hiking for about an hour or so, Uh, and we come across the rhino and I had one of those analog film cameras, so I couldn’t see the screen or anything. So I took a picture, didn’t know how it turned out. Cause back then you had to send your film in, took a step forward closer to the rhino, took another picture and thought maybe it’s gonna look like a blob. Um, I should take another step forward. So at that point I should have just been happy with my photos I had taken at that point, but I wasn’t. So I took a step forward and the rhino charges us. So I take off running because I knew my friend Todd was a long distance runner in high school and he, he’ll beat me for two miles, but the first hundred, 200 yards I was a sprinter and I knew I had him for at least a short bit.
Speaker 3 00:11:03 So I take off running, there’s these two other Peace corps volunteer human shields behind me and just going through the woods until I can’t hear this rhino behind us. So we, we go back and the four of us come and this guide shimmy’s down a tree. It’s like, why didn’t you go up a tree <laugh>? It’s like, well why didn’t I go up a tree? Because when you’re being chased by a rhino, you go with what you know. Yeah. And that’s really how we live our lives. We’re chased by a rhino. Um, we have this stress response we’re, um, panicked and and freaking out. And, and that’s not when we try something new. That’s not when we try climbing a tree or whatever the tree is in your life. And so if we keep living being chased by a rhino, we’re gonna keep running. When really the best thing to do is to exert less energy and just quickly climb a tree, it would be safer as well.
Speaker 3 00:11:48 And so if we take that and then we look at slowing down and say, So how do we actually optimize our brains on the weekend And throughout the week there’s a number of emerging techniques that we see. Um, and so one of them is having hard and soft boundaries around your weekend. Um, so a hard boundary example for me, I wrote a book about why you should have a four day work week. So if there’s a pre-con consulting person that wants to work with Joe sank and they say, I can only meet with you on Friday, sorry, I’m never gonna take that person. I’d be a hypocrite if I’m all of a sudden working on Fridays when I wrote a book about why working on Fridays is not working on Fridays is better for humanity <laugh>. So it’s a hard boundary. Um, I have hard boundaries around when I shut my computer, I’m not gonna do any more work.
Speaker 3 00:12:29 So I close out the tab for my email. I close out the tab for my schedule so that at nine o’clock at night when my kids are in bed, I don’t open it up to watch Netflix with a friend and see my email and then get sucked into it. So I have hard boundaries around those things. But then there needs to be soft boundaries too. So for example, if on a Friday morning my director of details just text me and says, Practice of the practices on fire, there’s all these things happening. I need your help. I’m not gonna say to her, Sorry, hang out until Monday morning. I’ll be back and just let the thing burn. Like no, I’m gonna work on it. But then on Monday or the next week, we’re gonna reverse engineer what happened, Why did it happen? Why did I have to get involved in this?
Speaker 3 00:13:06 Why wasn’t that something the team felt competent to get involved? Who needs access to passwords that don’t have access to passwords? Cuz I’m the black aid in all this, so we’re gonna try to figure out and troubleshoot so it doesn’t happen again. So that’s a soft boundary. And so when we look at our weekends and say, let’s first start with a couple boundaries, then let’s add one thing and remove one thing. So what’s one thing we can just add to our weekend that we know is gonna give us life, you know, these small steps instead of just saying, Oh my gosh, I have to plan out my whole week. That’s so overwhelming. And especially for people that have had a tbi, let’s just do one small step that we know will work. So what’s one thing this weekend you can add in that’s gonna give you a little bit more life?
Speaker 3 00:13:43 You know, it could be planning a barbecue for your friends or your family. It could be, I know I wanna read two chapters in this book that I love. Um, it could be I just wanna sleep in until 11. Like who knows what your thing is? Um, but finding one thing to insert to your weekend, but then also finding one thing to remove. What’s that thing that just like gets you worked up? So it could be that toxic friend that you’re scheduled to have coffee with them on Saturday morning and you know you’re gonna feel like trash after you hang out with them. I give you permission to cancel that date with that person and to not hang out with that person. Or it could be I just get so worked up over mowing the lawn and I worry about it all week and then my weekend I spend two hours mowing my lawn.
Speaker 3 00:14:21 Maybe outsource that to the neighbor kid. Maybe it’s this weekend. You give yourself permission to not go fight with people to get groceries and be getting groceries for three hours. Maybe you pay the 25 extra bucks to have your groceries delivered. So finding that one thing to try and test. And then over time you figure out where’s the best ROI for me? Where’s the best return on investment that makes me feel best by adding something and feel best by taking something away. And then you start to discover these things that really through those boundaries and through the adding one thing and subtracting one thing helps you get to that next level to optimize your brain so that when you do go into work, you can actually get more done and feel refreshed.
Speaker 0 00:14:58 Yes. Oh, I love all that. I love all that. I think one of my favorite things actually to say as a therapist is like, if you needed some permission to do something, I grant it. Because I think a lot of times people don’t feel like they have permission. They’re my schedule’s the way it is and I just have to deal with it. Or my family commitments are the way they are and there’s no way around that. And I kind of dig into that. I’m like, Huh, that can we get curious about that? Can we figure out if there’s any changes really that you can do? And I think that curiosity is finding room for the chain for a lot of folks that if they really get curious and figure out why am I doing this the way I’m doing it, then there might be some room for them to start that. And it sounds like a really curious and diagnostic process that you’re talking about, Okay, I have this hard boundary and that’s, that’s not gonna, I’m not scheduling into this time, but can I figure out this weekend? Can I have a soft boundary if things fall apart? Like yeah, I can do that.
Speaker 3 00:15:56 Yeah. It’s like I’m a writer for a certain magazine. Um, and this magazine has a mandatory monthly meeting, um, that I personally find to be a total waste of time. Um, and I’m like, I can write the article, I can get it to you. Um, I might be able to make a meeting once a quarter if that’s a deal breaker for you, then just let me know. And it’s like, they still have me writing for this magazine and, and so, um, a lot of times we have these people in authority that say you have to do whatever, but when you push back, you actually realize there’s a lot of flexibility there. Um, I once heard a TEDx talk, I forgot who who said it. Um, but he said, uh, bend until it breaks. Um, and, and really it’s just the idea of just keep pushing the limits for what you want until things break.
Speaker 3 00:16:37 Uh, because oftentimes we’re so fearful of disrupting anything that we don’t step into what’s best for us. And the reality is most of the time when we step into what’s best for us, it’s also best for the business. You work for the business you’re creating, uh, in your relationships. Uh, it’s often, you know, if you’re more authentic showing up with your partner or your kids, even though it might disrupt things, it’s probably gonna be a better quality relationship. Now that doesn’t mean you just get to be a jerk all the time, but it means stepping into, Hey, you know what I’m feeling like I don’t wanna make dinner tonight. Um, I’d like to just share with you that I just really feel like I need this time away. Um, can I just go for a walk? Um, we can either order a takeout, uh, you can make dinner. Um, kids can just like open the fridge and eat whatever they want. I mean there’s lots of options there that isn’t just you going and making dinner again when you feel like I just don’t wanna make one more freaking dinner for this family. And so this applies beyond just the four day work week.
Speaker 0 00:17:32 It’s what did you like have, Is there some kind of mind reading going on? Cuz I have like dinner issues and you’re,
Speaker 3 00:17:36 Oh my gosh, I love when that happens. <laugh>, we’re just in line with the universe exchanging quirks back and forth.
Speaker 0 00:17:43 <laugh>. It’s just so funny cuz I just had a conversation with my husband. I’m like, I just can’t do dinner tonight.
Speaker 3 00:17:48 <laugh> that I love when that happens so much. <laugh>.
Speaker 0 00:17:52 Yeah, but it’s so true. I mean it’s things that I talk about with people all the time. You know, we, we think that we have to do things the same way because we’ve always done, we, we have always done them in this particular way so many times. And I think for folks I work with, they’re often like, well I always did it this way and this was me before and I was able to do all this so I should be able to do this now. So they get in the shoulds about their former self and what my former self can do. And I think without a brain injury I can even understand that, you know, like by pre pandemic self could do X, y, and Z but my po my during pandemic self, I almost said post, but we’re not there
Speaker 3 00:18:30 Yet. We’re not there yet. <laugh>
Speaker 0 00:18:33 My in process, messy middle pandemic self is can do this, right? So it’s even applicable I think for all of us right now as we’re going through this collective trauma.
Speaker 3 00:18:43 Yeah and I think that, you know, if we even just take that idea of my pre TBI self, my pre pandemic self, my pre whatever, that’s saying that you are at your ideal then like you probably weren’t, you know, I mean, and so to just say like where do I personally want to grow? Um, instead of looking backward, let’s just say right now what feels like an area that I can grow that I’m interested in. Um, I mean we know that our cells regenerate every seven years and so you physically actually aren’t the same person you were seven years ago. Um, that there’s very little about us that stays stagnant. Uh, you know, our awareness is about the only thing that we have throughout our whole life, um, that makes us us. And so even just that idea of saying, okay, let’s just look at that next step.
Speaker 3 00:19:25 Uh, let’s just look at what is that thing that’s gonna make me a little bit happier. So for you it might be if I could just not make dinner at all this weekend, I feel like I would be a fricking rock star <laugh>. Um, and so, so then that’s gonna take a little bit of work, um, to figure out is someone else gonna cook? Are you gonna go out to eat a whole bunch? Are you gonna have something delivered? Um, and that’s a great experiment to do cuz maybe you might get to Monday and say, Oh, I really missed cooking this weekend. I felt like that was less healthy than I want our family to be. Or it was more expensive. Or, you know, and then you start to have some good data to say, do I need every weekend just not cook? Is that something that’s so important to me that it’s gonna light me up in a way that I can become a new me? Or is it maybe, oh I got some data there where I thought that was gonna make me so excited but actually it wasn’t. Um, maybe I should have just gone for a run. Um, and so what’s great about this model is it’s a menu. It’s not this prescription where you’re learning to think and grow and adapt over time to become the best you, but then also create your best business.
Speaker 0 00:20:22 Oh, I love it. So I wanna be so mindful of your time. How can people figure out this menu? Get the plan, figure it out, tell people what they can, where they can find it.
Speaker 3 00:20:34 Yeah. So the book is Thursday is The New Friday All. If you can go to your local bookstore, I’m sure they’d appreciate that. They can pre-order it there or order it for you. You can go online. It’s available everywhere as an audio book, digital book, or a regular old, you know, book you can hold. Um, but then also if people buy more than five, we have lots of bonuses over at Thursday is the new Uh, so if you purchase before October 5th, um, we’re gonna be doing a mastermind group starting in November, walking people through the book. It’s a six week mastermind group with me. Um, and so you just submit your receipt over at Thursday as the new If you buy 10, you get the mastermind group. If you buy five, you get access to our online conference killing at camp. Uh, and then we have a lot of other bonuses that we’re giving away.
Speaker 3 00:21:15 Um, and then, that’s my main website for, uh, all of my keynotes in my writing. Uh, we actually have an area there for people that submit their experiments. And to me this is the most exciting thing, uh, that Henry Ford gave us the 40 hour work week. It was this white dude that just said, this is how it’s gonna be. We as a society get to now say we wanna shape into something different. And so one way that we’re contributing to that is to gather people’s experiments where they say what worked, what didn’t work? How did we think through this? In what industry were we in? And gathering that together and reporting out here’s things that we’re seeing work. Because I firmly believe that this is not Joe Xox movement. There are lots of people that have been talking about the four day work week.
Speaker 3 00:21:55 Um, this has been something that’s been around for a while and we together can all contribute to the conversation and put that social pressure onto society to bend it until it breaks. Um, to say that in our generation we need to see the four day work week become the prominent reality. Um, and so over in the experiment section is where we’re bringing all of that together as people try this out. And we walk through in the book how you can experiment, how you can, um, ask your your boss for the four day work week. Um, I even have an article that just went live on Harvard Business Review about the how to ask your boss for the four day work week, how to walk through that step by step. Um, so they can just go over to Harvard Business Reviews website to look at that. Oh. But yeah, there’s lots of information out there, um, lots of interviews that I’m doing, um, to just walk through how you do this well and how we can have this be a bigger shift for society into more creativity and productivity.
Speaker 0 00:22:43 Great. Well what’s one takeaway that you can give folks who might be struggling with a concussion or brain injury before we leave and say goodbye?
Speaker 3 00:22:51 Yeah. I, I would go back to that one point of looking at your weekend. Whenever this comes out and you listen to it your next weekend, add one thing and take one thing away. Um, that’s probably the biggest thing you can do to help yourself slow down so that you can spark that innovation and, and to come back and wanna kill it the next week. Um, cuz over time, as you add those things in that you find you just absolutely love and you take away those things that you absolutely hate, you’re gonna be building that ideal life on your weekend where you have the most power and control so that then when you go into the work week where you maybe have a little less control if you work for someone or even in your business, you’re gonna be able to amplify what you do there so much more when you’ve taken that time to slow down over the weekend.
Speaker 0 00:23:33 That’s great. Thank you so much for joining me. This was a treat.
Speaker 3 00:23:37 Oh, thank you so much for helping make Thursday the new Friday.
Speaker 0 00:23:39 Great. Have a good day.
Speaker 4 00:23:46 Thank you for joining us today on the TBI Therapist podcast. Please visit tbi for more information on brain injury, concussion and mental health. The information shared on today’s podcast is intended to provide information, awareness, and discussion on the topic. It is not clinical or medical advice. If you need mental health or medical advice, please seek a professional.


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