[This is a 47hats Tip.]

Want to improve your productivity, attitude and sales? Don’t work. At least, don’t work on a regular basis on weekends. For most of us, running a microISV is more like a nonstop marathon than a life of luxury and ease. We are, therefore we work – morning, noon and night, day in and day out. There’s always one more bug to fix, one more post to put up, one more marketing thing to do.

Don’t.

Here’s two good reasons for reestablishing the concept of “not work time” in your microISV life: It doesn’t work over the long haul and it will drive you crazy.

“Why Crunch Mode Doesn’t Work: 6 Lessons” is must reading if you still believe working 60, 70 80 hours a week, every week, is somehow the only way to build a successful microISV. For over a century companies have looked for ways to get more productivity out of their workforces, and for just as long study after study after study has shown that while for short (a couple of months) period 60 hour weeks work, after that productivity decreases offsetting the increased hours. Especially among “knowledge workers” – that being you.

Attention Deficit Disorder is a real affliction, especially among people who live and work primarily online. The symptoms?

  1. Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities.
  2. Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities.
  3. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  4. Often has trouble organizing activities.
  5. Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn’t want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
  6. Often loses things needed for tasks and activities (e.g. toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools).
  7. Is often easily distracted.
  8. Is often forgetful in daily activities.

Sound like anyone you know, perhaps you? That’s because there’s such a thing as Acquired Attention Deficit Disorder, or a Dr. Edward Hallowell who has been studying and treating ADD for 20 years calls it “CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap!” (yes, get this book!)

So maybe you need a plan, a project, a workflow, a flow chart here: it’s called resetting the boundaries between work and non-work in your microISV life.

Here’s a few ways of doing this:

  • Schedule time – entire days – to not turn on your computer(s).
  • Decide when you are going to stop work each day instead of just working until you can’t.
  • Turn off IM, the web, email during certain daylight hours.
  • Have an office area and a non-office area in your home.
  • Stop checking email at night and on weekends.

Some of these suggestions my sound facetious, but I am serious, and this is a serious topic: working nonstop is no way to live.

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8 thoughts on “No way to live

  1. There are counter example to this survey,
    if you take the Apple Mac team for instance :

    http://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?project=Macintosh&story=90_Hours_A_Week_And_Loving_It.txt

    They claimed working 90 hours and loving it.

    If the Mac team did sticked to a 40 hours schedule, I’m pretty sure that 1984 would never have been like 1984 🙂

    I believe there should be a certain of degree of flexibility in this, I guess it’s fine to stick to a 40 hours schedule per week as the norm, but if the business requires it we must be willing to work a little more when needed (crunch time, bug resolution …)

    I live in France and 35 hours is the norm,
    Overall it allows you to have a nicer social life, the flip side of the coin is that it hurts the French Software Industry …

  2. It’s one thing to max hours during a crunch of some weeks, even months. Been there, done that. The problem is thinking if some is good, more and more and year after year is better.

    It’s not. The point of all these studies is that evenually – inevitably – productivity not only drops to 40 hr week levels, it often plunges below that. Burning brightly is one thing, burn out is another.

    As for hurting the French Software Industry, any studies, evidence of this?

  3. In regards to the article about the 90 days a week for the Mac team, the first sentence is key –

    “Most of the Macintosh software team members were between twenty and thirty years old, and ***with few family obligations to distract us***, we were used to working long hours.”

    If work is more important than family (they are a ‘distraction’ after all) it is easy to put in 90 hours a week because work clearly is the most important thing in your life.

    If you work long hours for an extended period of time you will have problems maintaining relationships and friendships outside of work. Unless you are very committed (i.e. up at 5am every morning for a run) your physical fitness and health will suffer (due to the sitting and snacking for The Simpsons fans out there 😉 ), as well as the opportunity to be involved with the community through clubs and other organizations.

    The story of the Electronic Arts spouse is a very poignant and relevant reminder of the cost of long working hours on others – http://ea-spouse.livejournal.com/274.html

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