“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…”
Do you HUSTLE?
Do you GRIND?
Are you putting in 110%?
Our culture seems to be effort-obsessed. Work more. For more results. And in doing so, you’re somehow doing life and work right.
(The flip side being that if you work less, you’re somehow wrong or inferior.)
But is that really what you need? Is that really what you want?
Yes, there’s some virtue to working.
But there’s also some virtue to not working.
Let’s argue both sides of this for a minute…
You’ve heard the saying, that on your deathbed, you won’t be hoping for more time spent at the office. Except, I think that applies to most people who spend their life fulfilling their boss and company’s goals — and not their own. For entrepreneurs who are purpose-driven and creating value for others, I think a few DO lie on their deathbed wishing they could actually have done more.
At the extreme, take someone like Ghandi or Mother Theresa. The “work” that both did was so in alignment with their purpose, that I think both went to their graves thinking that they could’ve done more, and would’ve been happy to spend many more years working.
And while most of us aren’t the next Ghandi or Mother Theresa, some of us do feel very purpose-driven and fulfilled in our work. If that’s the kind of work you do, you shouldn’t be faulted for wanting to put in another hour.
That said, it’s quite possible that your work isn’t always so on-purpose, and maybe you are feeling a bit overworked.
In which case, consider this. Maybe you need more sleep. Maybe you need more non-work time. Maybe you need more creative activities outside of work. Maybe you need an outlet that you do for its own sake, not to make money. Maybe you need to do things that will fill your cup, so that when you are working, you have the extra energy to do more with less time.
Most of us vastly overestimate the productivity of extra hours…
I saw a study a few years back. It analyzed productivity at a big consulting firm. It compared worker productivity with hours at work.
If you’re a hustle and grind addict, what it found may shock you. The peak number of work hours in a week, in terms of productive output, was around 37. And I’m talking total productivity, not per-hour. Work much less than 37, and you’re just not putting in enough hours to accomplish as much. But if you work much more than 37, you’re not nearly as productive per hour as you’d hope you’re being.
If you’re answering emails on Saturday morning, thinking that’s the secret, you may be out of whack. If you’re up at midnight, trying to get a project done, the sleep deficit will catch up with you and kill your productivity tomorrow.
The same principle applies in exercise. Performance athletes know they can’t work out at max every day. A competitive powerlifter will typically only lift 2-4 days per week. The other days are rest days, where the muscle is actually built. Sure, there may be some other physical activity, but they only truly put their body under positive stress for limited windows.
Not only that, some of the world’s best athletic coaches and trainers today are saying sleep is the #1 thing you need to get better at high-performance athletics. A sleep deficit ruins performance.
The point being, don’t assume more work is always the ticket to better results.
Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.
Why I’m thinking about this…
Every Friday, I have a meeting with my coach, Joseph Rodrigues.
We look at things like cash flow, business productivity, project status, and more.
But it’s not all business. Because both Joseph and I know that how we are in one area will often influence how we are in all areas.
So even as I find myself working on some big projects in my business, Joseph often also reminds me of the power of focusing on elements of my personal life as well.
And sometimes, this focus comes with assignments.
This week, Joseph has asked me to focus on “filling up my cup.”
That is, doing things that have nothing to do with doing work and getting paid, that will help me be refreshed and relaxed to bring my full self to my work goals.
I have a handful of things that count. Making music is one, although I haven’t been doing much of that recently. Also, doing improv acting and comedy.
And this week, I’ve decided to get back into making beer and wine. It’s been a few years. I’d done it for a while, but then my kids reached an age where the time and work blocks involved, as refreshing as they were, just didn’t fit into the family schedule.
Now, the kids are a little older and more independent, and I’d been thinking about it for a while.
Then, we went to a neighborhood brewery (the family that owns it lives in our neighborhood and it’s very close by) for their anniversary celebration. And being in the brewery reminded me how exciting it is.
Specifically, I peeked into their airlock buckets, and heard and saw the carbon dioxide bubbles that were being generated from the fermenting beer. It was in that moment that I reached the tipping point — the moment of decision.
And yesterday I popped into the local homebrew shop, and picked up a wine kit. (It can be started faster!) And within the next few days, I’ll be starting a 6-gallon batch of Pinot Gris.
Even just in making that decision, it’s oddly rejuvenating. Focus and excitement for my work comes easier, when I focus on literally and figuratively filling up my cup.
And, as Joseph reminded me, this can be a positive challenge, too. If you focus on generating the same or more results from less time, what does that do for you, your business, and your career? How are you able to use that to rethink your work and your business model to be more effective and productive with less effort?
This thinking is what leads to things like leverage, royalties, passive income, and more.
Done right, this will start a virtuous feedback cycle. Where you’re generating even more results. From even less effort. For more results. With less effort. And on, and on…
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,