June 9, 2015
Designer and developer Jason Lengstorf was working 80-hour weeks designing websites for clients in 2012, when his beard started falling out.
“Patches of my beard started to turn white. The whiskers became ultra-fine. Then they fell out altogether. Shortly afterward, I lost my ability to grow a beard entirely – I was left with the unsavory choice between a clean-shaven ‘giant fat baby’ look and a creepy mustache,” he writes.
It took the loss of a beard to wake him up to the unhealthiness of his lifestyle. “After my beard died, I felt the full weight of burnout. I was burnt to a f***ing crisp. I realized I could either leave my career altogether, or make some fundamental changes to my lifestyle.”
From that point on, Lengstorf became an opponent of what he calls the “overkill cult”: the belief that working over 60 hours a week is honorable and necessary for success. The overkill cult lures us with the desire to be dedicated, responsible, and ambitious; we join it little by little until we’re hooked – but we’d still deny there’s anything wrong with us.
Lengstorf extricated himself with a few serious lifestyle changes:
- Work 40 hours a week or less. Research says we can’t be productive for more than 40 hours a week, and significant overwork can actually drive us into negative productivity (it’s possible, as any programmer will tell you).
- Sleep for about 8 hours a night. It will lengthen our lifespan and make us more creative and productive. It’s time to stop “greeting your coworkers, bleary-eyed, half-joking about needing coffee to survive,” Lengstorf says.
- Stop feeling guilty about time not working. Spending time with friends and family, going to the gym, pursuing hobbies – these are the things that make life meaningful.
So, are you part of the cult?
Image credit: “The Cult of Work You Never Meant to Join” by Jason Lengstorf
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