Look at this beardGlorious!
I nearly robbed
the world of its majesty
In 2012 I averaged 70 hours per week on the computer
And it wasn’t unusual to pass 90.
My long hours were a point of pride for me
I landed a huge contract:
A high-profile, Black Friday marketing site for a Fortune 500 company — charging agency rates and rush fees.
We planned it all out...
...then reality happened
I worked over 100 hours that week
The Business Result:
- The client loved it
- The project made the client a bunch of money
- I got paid a bunch of money
- The project won an Addy Award
The Personal Cost:
- I missed Thanksgiving with my family
- I slept less than 4 hours a night
- I ate fast food delivery for every. single. meal.
- MY FRIGGIN’ BEARD FELL OUT
I was already burning out.
Losing my beard
was the final straw.
Poor & healthy
is better than successful & sick
I cut back on everything:
- I only accepted calls during business hours
- I turned off ALL notifications
- I turned on Do Not Disturb mode from 6pm to 8am
- I only checked email twice a day
- I set up activities with my friends...
- ...and left my phone in the car while I was there
I was ready to lose business if I could have my life back
…but that’s not what happened
What I expected:
my clients would leave
I’d miss big opportunities
I’d accomplish less
no one noticed
my business grew
I got more done
“How is it possible that you got more done by working fewer hours?”
Working 60+ hours per week makes us less productive than working 40 hours1
Long hours destroy passion and engagement2
Overworking increases employee turnover3
Creativity suffers if we don’t take time to go outside and be people4
Lack of downtime
We lose 20% of our time per task while multitasking6
Sleeping less than 7 hours
a night is worse than being too drunk to drive7
“You haven’t answered the question, nerd.”
5 Strategies to
- Track your time
- Time-box tasks
- Front-load important work
- Prioritize aggressively
- DO NOT multitask
Track Your Time
The simple act of acknowledging how we spend our time encourages us
to use it more wisely.
If I have a long day...
...I know to take a day off
You’re never more productive than when you’re up against a deadline with
13% battery left.
Find your rhythm.
- Decide how long you want to focus for
- Close and turn off everything unrelated
- Start a timer
- Unleash your brilliance upon the world
- When the timer goes off, take a break
1. We’re not distracted
2. We get into a flow state
3. We’re taking breaks
4. We’re still available
We all have something called an “ultradian rhythm”, which regulates our
energy in 90-minute-ish intervals.8
* May not be actual science.
Front-Load Important Work
Motivation and self-control are resources that deplete as the day goes on.
Don’t waste them.
We’re the best versions of ourselves early in our day
- energy is higher
- focus is improved
- self-control is at its peak
If everything is The Most Important Thing™, nothing is.
Use the Highlander Technique
Put tasks into a tournament bracket...
...and then start choosing.
DO NOT Multitask
Ever. Just stop it.
us feel productive.
Single-tasking makes us actually productive.
“How do I know that any of this junk really works?”
My 2016 RescueTime report
Average: 37 hours per week
My 2017 RescueTime report
Average: 39 hours per week
I’ve been able to manage:
- My day job workload
- My blogs and side projects
- Multiple conference sessions and workshops
- A reasonably full social calendar
- 3× weekly workouts
- 8 hours average sleep
If we work too much, we’re:
- worse at our jobs
- more likely to burn out
- less likely to feel satisfied at our job
- less able to enjoy our lives
If we work a reasonable schedule, we’re:
- more creative
- more productive
- happier (both in and out of work)
We can be more productive in less time by:
- paying attention to how we spend our time
- time-boxing tasks to create urgency & limit distractions
- front-loading demanding tasks while our energy is high
- aggressively prioritizing work to enable better focus
- never, ever, ever multitasking again
Follow me on Twitter: @jlengstorf