Working a 60 Hour Week Results in Negative Productivity

June 2, 2015

3:00 pm

Are people actually faking workaholism? According to Jason Lengstorf, companies in America have pushed employees so far that dedication to work is actually something to be proud of. Sleeplessness has become a strange badge of honor. At Future Insights Live in Las Vegas, Lengstorf presented “Happy People Do It Better: A look at work-life balance and long-term productivity” to a packed room of developers and designers interested in striking a balance. See the full series of FILive Las Vegas stories here!

Based on his recent Medium post and inspired by his own personal experience, Lengstorf cautioned that not only should employers review their work policies, but employees also have the ability to put the control over their time back into their own hands. And entrepreneurs or freelancers who feel you must stack each day full of back-to-back tasks in order to stay ahead? You don’t get a special pass. Working more than 60 hours per week consistently will destroy your productivity. Period. So stop it.

“But I enjoy what I do,” you say. “I’m doing something worthwhile, and it doesn’t feel like work!” Also – nope. It’s hurting you. “Working this hard makes us worse at our jobs,” Lengstorf declares. “Your burnout will accumulate and your productivity actually begins to become negative. You will get less work done than if you were working 40 hours.”

The qualities we like most about ourselves are being turned against us

No one is meant to survive the cult of working harder to get ahead. Overwork kills passion and engagement. Overwork hurts companies with higher turnover. In order to change, the people at organizations must lead the shift.

Rethink how we measure value.

  • Is time spent in office a measure of a person’s contribution?
  • If it takes 150% of a normal workday to achieve tasks, then tasks are being improperly assigned.
  • Reward those who move through tasks quickly with higher pay, rather than penalizing them with more tasks.

The most important management tool is trust.

  • Believe that people want to produce the best work possible.
  • Let the team choose how they work best.
  • Trust the team to do what you hired them to do.

Ultimately you are in control of your time

You need sleep. You need leisure, health, and passion as well. On the long road to success, do not sacrifice long-term well-being for short-term gains. As adults, we are capable of having uncomfortable conversations with each other. “It’s your call,” adds Lengstorf. “If you accept responsibility for your own experience, this is where change happens.” Remove control from the manager and put it into your own hands.

Control your attention.

  • Get control of your notifications. You know you will check texts, mentions, and emails eventually. You don’t need a ping each time someone tries to communicate with you.
  • When you are done with work, be done. Do not continue to check for updates and feedback. Come back fresh.
  • Set your personal boundaries. Address any expectations for you to be available when it’s not appropriate.

Survive to enjoy it.

  • Regularly take full days off of work. A whole day. Not just most of a day, where some tasks are still performed.
  • Believe it or not, feeling like a human being is very important. Checking in with tasks every day removes normalcy from life.

Schedule in blocks.

Doing things in sequence is the best way to waste your day and lead to that 80 hours of work. Schedule in blocks instead. You’re not the only one whose list of duties will have a wide variety of tasks that require different kinds of attention and focus. Lengstorf has helpfully offered a suggestion to help with your scheduling, yes; even those who believe their work does not fit in to this model.

  • Separate tasks by context.
  • Split up your to-do list and discover which are the meaningful tasks, and which are the bullshit tasks. Make no mistake, bullshit tasks have to be done, but they need to be properly defined and categorized.
  • Communicate what you’re doing. Those you work with will be reminded that they, too, can take charge of their own time.

Tech.Co is happy to announce our media partnership with Future Insights. Follow the discussion online at #FILIVE!

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Previously the Managing Editor at Tech.Co, Ann Diab has a background of launching and nurturing of startups and tech companies.

Empowering and educating entrepreneurs and startups to better productivity and culture is her passion. Growth Manager at WorkingOn to enable folks all over the world to enjoy work and improve communication. Follow me on Twitter.

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