The True Value of an 80 Hour Work Week (Part 1)
Content was originally published on Inc.com on August 20, 2019.
If I made the assertion that eventually the gains of working longer and harder eventually cap out would you agree?
I ask this question to business owners all the time and it seems universal that we all get that at a certain point, working longer and harder has a degrading rate of return in terms of the value you can create for your company. It just caps out.
But why then are so many business leaders working so hard? Could it be that as you’ve grown incredibly competent at what you do, sometimes it feels like the pressure has only increased, because now your company relies more than ever on your daily presence and production to succeed.
Have you ever felt like each day you start with even higher expectations about what you can get done, which in the past you managed by working more “efficiently.”
But at a certain point, you maxed out what efficiency was able to do for you, so you turned to the temporary fix of longer hours and working from home or over the weekend.
But soon that temporary expediency–never intended to be permanent–became a fixture in your life.
It doesn’t matter whether you run your own business or professional practice, or play a key leadership role at a large corporation–the pressure and frustrations are universal.
So what’s the way out?
I want to share with you what I call, the “Time and Effort” Chains which I talk about in my latest book. These are essentially the factors that trap you and so many of your business peers into working longer and harder – far past the point where those extra hours are actually healthy for your business or for your life.
First up, I want to focus on the first two chains that keep us tied down.
Chain #1: You Have The Model All Wrong
Somehow we have fooled ourselves into thinking that if we only work harder, longer, faster, that we can work our way out of the hole. But that’s like someone stuck at the bottom of a deep pit shoveling away. When you ask them how they plan on getting out, they shout up, “I’ll just dig faster!”
There have been many times in my business career where, if you had observed my behaviors, you’d have to conclude that my strategy was one of “digging faster.” I’ve felt, as you’ve probably felt that I was dying a death of a thousand cuts, overwhelmed and exhausted. It’s one thing to know this cognitively, but quite another to consistently behave this way.
Chain #2: Chasing After Control
I know that at various times I’ve found myself saying, “If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.”
I’m a control freak, and I know that in the business world, I am NOT alone.
I hate the anxiety of wondering if someone else will do the job right. I regularly feel pulled back into assuming control and more closely directing my team. I like the feeling of coming up with the idea or solving the problem. I feel important. Needed. In control.
But I’ve come to recognize the high price we all pay, and our companies pay, for this urge to control every detail of your business and team.
I’m not suggesting that you just abdicate responsibility; rather, I urge you to build on a stable base of sound business systems, a talented and well-trained team, and a culture that helps ensure that your team properly handles any ambiguous situation that arises.
Once you have these two time and effort chains under control, you can then focus on the other three: lack of clarity, lack of depth and outdated time habits.