I’m currently working the fewest hours per week I ever have in my professional life, and I’ve never been more productive.
We’ve all fallen victim to this irrational way of thinking before:
My competitors are going to crush me if I don’t outwork them!
We’ll never ship $new_feature if we don’t work through the weekend!
If I work just a few more 100 hour weeks, surely that will pay off!
The Hustle™ is bullshit, and a poor way to accomplish anything of lasting value.
There’s a pervasive and toxic way of thinking ‘round these parts that you’ve gotta out-hustle your competitors; that you have to pull all-nighters and throw away weekends to ship that new feature; that, by working double- or triple-time, you’ll execute better and pull ahead of the pack.
What did The Hustle™ accomplish? I gained weight. I wasn’t spending enough time with my (now) wife. I felt like shit. I began to resent my work, and the work I was producing clearly wasn’t my best. I started cutting corners. I went from a mindset of shipping with quality and integrity to “when is this going to be over?”
Nowadays, I’m working 4-day weeks, and doing no more than an hour or two of intense work at a time. I take a lot of walks. I’ve lost weight. I’m happier. My wife is happier. I’m more present. And most importantly:
I’m doing the best work of my life.
The idea that, without “hustle,” without throwing away nights and weekends, without putting your life on hold for your work, you’ll somehow be more successful, more productive, is ridiculous to me, yet continues to be pushed by participants in our industry left and right. This is, quite simply, insane.
So, dear reader, I implore you: If this post at all rings true, sounds a little too familiar, do yourself a favor — take a vacation. Get away from your work for a bit. Reset. And when you come back, pick some number under 35 and try working that many hours per week, and no more.
I’ll be surprised if you don’t start doing the best work of your life too.
Postscript: If your colleagues, clients, or bosses don’t get why working less is a better idea, leave. There are far better places to be than at a company that values quantity over quality. (You too, freelancers: Set office hours, take breaks.)