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Is It Possible to Work Less Than 40 Hours A Week and Still Build Something Great?

Erykah St.Louis

We often hear of the benefits of working less: our body is naturally wired to work in short bursts and when we give our mind room to breathe we generate new ideas and connections. We are not always measured by the widgets we can make, so does it make sense that our working hours are more inspired by the industrial age than the information age?

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  • Erykah St.Louis

    Abi, 99u is an AMAZING resource! You should definitely add it to your weekly site visits.

  • Abi Magalong

    Thanks for sharing. 99u seems like a great resource!

  • Ben Goldhirsh

    I think there are times to crank and times to chill. I think it's important to recognize the phase and deliver for it. When your anxious during the a relaxed period you miss out the chance to rejuvenate. When you're chilled out when it's time to go, you're off the path. I heard a good analog from surfing once, which spoke about how you gotta go when there is a break in the set. I think this is true. When a window opens, the energy put into the hustle yields a disproportionate amount of return to that when there is friction. So all in all, I'm trying to be more conscious of when to grind and when to breath.

    • Erykah St.Louis

      "Go when there is a break in the set" that sounds like ambition and motivation to me! Thoughtful comment Ben. Being conscious and keeping our antenna's tuned into our workload can really help us switch back and forth from grinding to breathing.

    • Jen Chiou

      how do you usually determine when to grind and when to breath?

      • Erykah St.Louis

        Jen, I think we can determine that from a couple indicators...one way is to listen to our bodies. If physically we're not feeling 100% or mentally we feel like we're going to pop, those are probably not the best times to grind. I know for me that is true. A couple weeks ago I was dead creatively...after grinding for three months straight. I took a couple days off work and voila! Back to grinding and back to having more creative juice. For you it may be totally different, but a start would be to listen to what your body is telling you.

        • Ben Goldhirsh

          I dig that. I also think it's about the landscape. Sometimes clarity of potential rises and that demands pursuit. Sometimes things are vague and you can't grind your way there.

          • Erykah St.Louis

            I fully agree. Even if we're in "grind mode" some things cause us to get stuck and these things can be totally out of our control.

  • Hannah Wasserman

    I think it's probably a mix. There are going to be times that require an 80 hour work week, but the overriding norm should be much less. I DO think working smart is important. With literally every bit of information at our finger tips, it's easy to dick around. It's kind of the theory of procrastination-- you wait and wait until you have 2 hours to get it done, then you just do it. If you ONLY give yourself two hours to do a task, then you will log less hours taking "breaks for twitter".

    • Erykah St.Louis

      Hannah, I couldn't agree more. The idea of working smart vs working hard really resonates with me. What I wonder though, is how do we adjust the way we work (i.e working smart) when our work culture/environment equates long hours with hard worker?

      • Hannah Wasserman

        Totally. I think the culture is going to change/ is already changing. Companies like Google are taking the lead in this and I think the rise of the freelance economy will also contribute to the shift. It's funny though-- in practice no matter how efficient I'm being, if I try to leave early or take breaks, I feel like a slacker! I really want to make a point of personally working smarter.