Can Excellence happen 40 hours a week? That’s a question I’ve been struggling with lately. It’s become very popular lately to talk about work life balance and I agree….to a certain extent so here is what I’ve come up with.
- Stop thinking in terms of hours and think in terms of work that needs done. If you’re looking at work/career with a 40-50 hour cap your ceiling will be much lower. Work is about getting things done and if you are constantly putting in 60 plus hours a week it is time to step back make sure you’re delegating what you can and if you’re being efficient. But if your goals are to have that corner office a 60 hour work week is just of the job. It may not mean 60 hours in your cube but if you add up time spent advancing your education, making social rounds, and the actual work then you’ll fine 60 hours is standard. If you aren’t willing to work that much – that is fine but just don’t be surprised when you’re passed over.
- You need to work when the work is there. It isn’t natural, or smart, to leave vital work left undone because you’ve done your time. A farmer doesn’t look at his watch and say “hey it’s 4:00 let’s put the tractor away and go watch some Netflix”. When you’re in your harvest season you need to ensure you get your work done. The example you’re setting for your kids is that responsibility matters and you’re showing your customers, boss, or organization that you know how to properly prioritize and that you are thankful for the work. You read that right – you are thankful for the work.
Now the caveats
- It isn’t always harvest season. If you’re working everyday as though it is harvest you’re being used or you’re not organized. Sure there are fires to be put out but are they a tire fire in a field or is it a structure near others. Not all fires are equal so learn to identify and act accordingly.
- You can’t kick ass if you never have downtime. Working insane hours with a ton of pressure will eventually take its toll on your productivity. You need to build in downtime daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Even if it’s ten minutes in the handicapped stall where you just close your eyes and clear your head you need to do this daily. Look at your calendar and before your boss assigns you a project stake your claim and buy some tickets to the game, or travel, that way you’re more committed to it and are less likely to cancel it.