Why I don’t work more than 40 hours per week - RV Business Coach
December 3, 2020

Why I don’t work more than 40 hours per week

When you think about owning a business, you may have concerns about how much time and effort it will take.

After all, to be successful, it’s all about grit, and hustle, putting in long hours, doing whatever it takes, right?

In today's video I make the case that working more hours may not be the best way to accomplish your goals.

This video was streamed live on Facebook and YouTube on December 3, 2020.

Transcript (click to expand)

When you think about owning a business, you probably have some concerns about how much time and effort it's going to take. After all, to be successful, it's all about grit and hustle and putting in long hours and doing whatever it takes, right?

Hi, I'm Don Downs from RV Business Coach, and today I'm going to tell you why I don't work more than 40 hours a week. Why, in fact, working more hours may not be the best way to accomplish your goals.

Now, I know I certainly used to think that business ownership required a lot of work. I remember several years ago I was in a workshop on entrepreneurism and the instructor went around the room asking us all, "Why do you want to own your own business?" And one woman said, "I want the freedom of choosing my own hours."

And I replied, "Sure, all 24  of them!" Which of course was good for a good laugh, and also some comments from the instructor about being realistic about the number of hours it's going to take, and it is a lot of work and things like that.

But now that I've been in business several years, I kind of look at it a little bit differently.

I know I used to think that you had to work a lot of hours. And I have to be really, really clear, You still have to do the work, but it's not just a measure of hours.

Just this morning, I was on a meeting and several people were talking about how in their corporate jobs there are people there who, as they described it, are just running out the clock. They're not really mentally present in the job. They're not excited about the work. They're just going through the motions and hoping to stay employed long enough to get to retirement and then move on out.

My wife used to work for a company where they had a name for people like that. They said they were RIP:  Retired in Place, meaning for all intents and purposes, they were retired. They weren't doing any work other than coming into the office and collecting a paycheck.

Now, maybe that works in some corporate positions—and in fairness, it really shouldn't work in a corporate position because the company's paying you to do a job and you really ought to be doing that job.

But I can tell you it's not going to work in an entrepreneurial situation. As an entrepreneur, if you're not doing the work, you're not going to get paid. It's that simple,

But that doesn't mean you have to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In fact, doing so is only a recipe for burnout. So let's look at three reasons why.

Reason #1: Working longer hours doesn't correlate to getting more done.

It's kind of surprising, right? I mean, that's the whole reason that we want to work more hours! And yet there's research out there that says, counterintuitive as it is, that's not the case.

According to an article by CNBC, studies showed that overtime does not increase productivity. In fact, they found productivity falls off, falls off after 50 hours, falls off really sharply after 55 hours and falls off so sharply that after 70 hours, people putting in 70 hours or more of work a week are getting no more done than people who only put in 55. So they're basically wasting 15 hours a week that they could have spent doing something else.

I've seen this firsthand. In one of my early jobs, I worked for a large telecom company and we were running behind on a project and so there was a lot of pressure to put in extra hours. I think maybe even a mandate came down from above that we would put in extra hours.

And I remember talking to my director at the time and he said he really wished they hadn't done that because he didn't think it was effective. He said the productivity was no higher, and one reason for it was he saw a lot of wasted time.

You know, people are like, well, if I have to be here 10 hours today, then standing here for half an hour talking to somebody doesn't make any difference. I'm going to be here a long time anyway.

So kind of that mental attitude fell, the sharpness fell, to the ability to focus... All fell as a result of working too many hours.

So that's #1, working hours doesn't correlate to getting more done.

Reason #2: Working longer hours can lead to health problems.

An Inc article recently outlined some of these health problems:

  • Working more than 10 hours a day is associated with a 60 percent increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease. 60% just for working an extra two hours a day!
  • Not surprisingly, working longer leads to more relationship problems. Makes sense, right? You're at work. You're not at home. Relationships fall apart both with your spouse and with your kids.
  • Working more than 40 hours a week has been linked to increased and unhealthy weight gain, as well as depression and increased alcohol and tobacco use.

So all of these extra hours are having really negative effects on us

Also, injury rates increase as you increase the number of work hours.

So there's long term effects that can be negative for putting too many hours of work in.

Reason #3: Our mind and body need time to rejuvenate.

 Many of the health problems that we talked about. in reason #2 are related to a lack of sleep and increased stress.

And, you know, that's really bad news when you're trying to get things done, because it's all too easy to fall into this trap of trying to complete as many tasks as possible. And the way we do that is we steal time from other things. And for whatever reason, the first place most of us, including me, want to steal time is from our sleep.

And it unfortunately really doesn't make sense to do that, because that lack of sleep leads to all kinds of problems. It leads to increased health problems. It leads to a lack of focus. It leads to a lack of creativity.

And so the result is that you wind up wasting more time instead of getting more stuff done.

I've actually published a blog on the importance of sleep.

I'll drop a link to it here in the chat.

All right, so there is a link:


to an article I wrote about the importance of sleep.

And in it, I give a lot of the studies and so forth that back up this notion that sleep is really important.

OK, so maybe, maybe I've convinced you by now that working more hours isn't the solution to getting more done.

How to Get More Done (in fewer hours)

So then the question is, how do we get more done?

Well, I'll give you three steps to do that.

Step 1:  Plan

Plan out what you're going to do.

I go through three phases of this planning.

  • Determine what needs to be done.

    So I find it helps to brainstorm out what all I need to be done. And I do this like on a weekly basis, brainstorm all the stuff that I'm trying to work on.

    And I like to put it in a mind map to put in a software mind map. And the reason for that is it's really easy to drag things around. And so I can sit there and play with a few minutes and I start seeing interdependencies and co-dependencies and start saying, oh, well, I really can't do that until this happens and things like that. So it really helps me to do that.

  • Prioritize.

    When you prioritize, part of prioritization is figuring out what's the most important thing. But it also means—and this is hard— it means saying no to some stuff.

    Steve Jobs famously said,

    "People think focus means saying yes to the thing you've got to focus on. But that's not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that are out there. You have to pick carefully." I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things."

    So that planning process has to include determining what are you going to say no to.

    Now, when I first started my business, I was fortunate to work for a guy who was pretty smart and very nice, and he allowed me to go part time and start building up my business while still working for the company part time.

    But after the first quarter, we met, and had a quarterly review and he said, “I'm not sure this is working, because it doesn't seem like you're getting a lot done.”

    And I said, “You're right, I'm not. And here's why.”

    And I pulled out my company project list of what I was working on and I was working on 20 different projects. Now, if you're working on 20 projects and you're working 20 hours a week, doesn't take much math, to realize on average you're moving each project one hour a week. And that's just not good.

    Obviously, we weren't making progress. Again, I said the guy was smart. He said, “Let's look at that list.” And we sat down and we pared it down to three projects. Three projects that I was going to focus on in the twenty hours I was there. And things went much, much better after that.

  • Block out time to do your work.

    And I mean actually block it out, put it on your calendar, protect that time, give yourself the space to do the heavy lifting, to do the deep work that you need to do.

So that's Step Number 1, to get more things done in less hours is to plan.

Step 2: Batch tasks

Another trick that I use a lot is to batch tasks. It really helps to do similar things together.

For example, if I need to make a bunch of phone calls today, I'll block out a time and I'll just make all those calls back to back to back. And I find that works so much better than to keep having to stop and shift gears and and go make the phone calls.

A lot of bloggers I've talked to do this. They'll spend time brainstorming ideas for their blog. Then they'll spend the day writing, they'll spend the day editing, they'll spend the day posting.

And that's much more effective than sitting down and going, OK, today I have to do a blog. What am I going to write about? I'm going to write it, I'm going to edit it, I'm going to post it all in one fell swoop.

So batching up your tasks can really help you be more efficient.

Step 3: Systematize

And then a third thing that can help you be more efficient is to systematize. Now, when we think systematize, a lot of times we think about automation. Can I automate tasks that I'm doing?

And if you can, that's great. Just make sure that the result of the automation saves more time than you put into building and debugging the automation. But if you can automate things, that's great.

But systemizing can be even simpler than that. A lot of times it's just creating a checklist or a procedure so that you do things, and you do the always the same way.

You don't have to think about it.

You don't get lost and try to figure out, “How do I do this?”

It's all right there for you.

You've probably heard the stories about how Steve Jobs always wore black T-shirts and Barack Obama always wore gray suits because it took a decision out of the way for them.

If you open the closet door and you look in there and there's 10 black T shirts, doesn't take much brainpower to figure out you're going to wear a black T-shirt today.

And then that energy that you spent not having to make that decision is available for other things. There  truly is a thing called decision fatigue, and systemizing can help us avoid that decision fatigue.

All right, and I do have a blog on that,

let me drop the link to that in the chat as well.

Here we go: https://rvbusinesscoach.com/why-you-need-the-s-word-to-grow-your-business/

Let's see. I was just checking to see if anybody has sent a chat, I don't see one yet. Cool.

So that's really my three tips for getting more done in fewer hours.

  • Plan
  • Batch
  • Systematize

And I'll give you a bonus. I hinted at it earlier.

Bonus Tip: Get enough sleep.

Getting enough sleep will increase your productivity more than anything else you can do.

So block out that sleep time, protect it and get the rest.

All right. Did you find this helpful? Do you have any questions?

Feel free to leave me a comment. I'd love to hear from you.

If you want some help doing these things, I'm happy to help with that. You can book a call at ChatWithDon.com and we can have a quick meeting and discuss some of these things because, you know, a lot of these things you hear over and over and over. But it's like, yeah, it doesn't work for me, but maybe you just need a little outside voice to help you see how it does work.

So I'm happy to do that. Again, it's ChatWithDon.com.

All right. I hope you found this helpful.

Again, feel free to leave comments or set up a call with me.

And that's it for now. Take care.

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