Going Home Will Make You Work More Productively

My business partner, Steve Bristol, and I really used to put in major hours the first years of the company. We were working 80+ a week. After working ourselves to a point of being burned out we realized that if we put in 40 x 2 hours the company didn’t move forward 2x faster. In fact those extra 40 hour were less productive than the first 40 hours. The reality is you’ll never be “done” with your work, you’ll never finish all the tasks, build all the features and have the perfect design. At the end of the day, around 4 pm, we close our laptops and go home.

David Hauser, a founder of several startups, talked to other entrepreners about what they wished they knew before working at their first startup. The above advice by Nick Francis, the co-founder of Help Scout, is something I always need to remind myself to do, which is to make sure that any extra hours you put in are being used effectively. If they’re not, shut it all down, and do something better with your time, like sleep.

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6 Comments / Post A Comment

Megano! (#124)

I don’t get why this is such a hard concept to grasp.

Mike Dang (#2)

@Megano! As a workaholic, it’s like my version of not being able to control my spending, basically. I’ve worked at a few startups, and it’s a common (misguided) idea that if you’re not putting in as many hours as you can, you don’t believe in what you’re doing.

Megano! (#124)

@Mike Dang I was actually at a game dev conference, and there was actually a talk about avoiding this sort of thing (it’s called crunching, it basically means you left it to the last minute and have to spend a bajillion hours of overtime to finish stuff on time, and it burns everyone out and can pretty much destroy morale), and you know it’s a problem when programmers are trying to avoid it cuz they are NOTORIOUS for working 80+ hour weeks. Basically I think if this is something that happens a lot, you’re not managing your team effectively.

mishaps (#65)

“In fact those extra 40 hour were less productive than the first 40 hours.”

Testify. It’s my firm belief that any time you say “well, we’re going to have to work on this all night,” productivity takes a nosedive. If you can say “let’s get as far as we can with this by 6,” there’s a lot less faffing around.

lizard (#2,615)

a lot of people cant work at home.

This was really driven home to me when I had a friend doing her MA in design. There was a culture in design school – and this seems to be pretty common in the field – of pulling all-nighters, and she just chose not to. And felt really pressured by her peers to join in, as if her work was lesser or lazy. She was one of the hardest working people I know, and a great designer (who was the top of her class, I understand). Seeing it unfold at a distance made me realise the folly of overwork as a spectator sport.

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