I’ve written a few articles explaining why I agreed to work 90-hours a week, but I wanted to share some of the key learnings from that period.
1. Understand the compromises
When you make a commitment to work longer hours, you need to think about what you’re giving up. In my case, the extended working meant that after eating, sleeping and commuting I’d have about 2 hours personal/family time each day. I was effectively putting my life on hold.
Make sure that before you agree to something like this, you’re clear about what exactly you’re signing up for and your ability to make the compromises required
2. Establish the cut-off
You don’t want to put your life on hold indefinitely, do you? Then you need to establish up-front when it’s going to end. This is much easier to do at the start than waiting until you’re at breaking point and need to pull the plug. Set the conditions that need to be true in order for you to be able to go back to your regular pattern. If you’re delivering something, what will happen if the delivery is delayed? Establish clear contingecy options with your boss to ensure that you’re not seen to be ‘dropping the ball’ later on.
3. Agree how you’ll be remunerated
Unless you’re working on something truly amazing or world-changing, it’s unlikely that you’ll double your workload without getting something in return. This might be overtime, time off in lieu, a promotion at the end, etc. Whatever your reward, ensure that you’ve agreed up front what this is and the conditions under which you will receive it. Is the payback performance-related? Is it guaranteed, or just a possibility? This will enable you to assess whether it’s really worth it
4. Be prepared to be a wreck
If you’re pushing past your normal limits, you may be tempted to overestimate your ability to cope with more work/less sleep. Try and cater for the fact that if you’re putting more physical pressure on yourself, your performance will dip as you get tired. Try and take care of yourself as much as possible so you don’t become ill and unable to complete your task.
5. Talk to your family
If you have family/dependants then you need to make sure they understand – and are fully bought into – what you’re doing. They’re going to have to adjust to these changes too, and it’s going to put pressure on them as much, if not more than you.
Taking a big extra workload on isn’t something to be taken lightly; think it through carefully before embarking on it and dont forget: you’ll need some time to recover afterwards.
Have you gone through something similar? I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org