Capping Hours

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a short post why people (specially founders) shouldn’t count how many hours they work because effort doesn’t equal output. This week I came across this interesting article on Quartz titled “Boasting about how many hours you work is a sign of failure” and I think it made a great argument for counting the hours you work. Now before you think I just one huge walking contradiction hear me out. The article brings up some interesting studies that suggest that for any given employee productivity peaks at around 55 hours per week and anything beyond that quickly starts having negative marginal utility. Thus, it might make sense to count how many hours I work ONLY to make sure that **I am not going over the limit.

The literature on optimal work weeks probably dates back to the industrial revolution when “managers” started to realize that there was a correlation between hours worked by factory workers and an increase/decrease in errors made. I am being speculative here and this might be a little anachronistic but in any case the point holds. People have been thinking about how many hours they should work per week for a long time.

The Takeaway

I got two key takeaways from this article. First, I will cap the hours I work per week to 54hrs/week (9hrs x 6days). This means that I will dedicate 9 hours every day to working on our startup and will take Saturdays off (as I’ve been doing). This also means that I will have to look very closely at how can I make those 54 the most productive that I can.

Second, this article got me thinking about a cool experiment. What if I broke down how I spend my week and see whether that allocation corresponds to my actual priorities. In other words, am I putting my time where my mouth is? Here’s the initial breakdown I came up with:

Work on Startup – ****9hrs x 6days = 54hrs/week

Sleep – ****8hrs x 7days = 56hrs/week

Reading – 1hr x 7 days = 7hrs/week

Exercising – ****1hr x 7days = 7 hrs/week

Writing – ****1hr x 7 days = 7hrs/week

Meditating – 0.16hr x 7days = 1hrs/week

Planning – ****0.16hr x 7days = 1hrs/week

                              **Sub-Total** = 133hrs/week 

Everything Else – 5hrs x 7days = 35hrs/week

                                       **Total** = 168hrs/week 

The way I did this was my prioritizing my top activities and estimate how much time I should be dedicating to each of them. I then tallied up the numbers and allocated the rest of the time we all get in a week (168hrs) into the “Everything Else.” The bulk of the “everything else” will probably be eating, showering, relaxing and “buffer” time in between activities. Very quickly you start to realize that although I technically get 5 hours / day to whatever I want in reality I have to very careful with how I spend it.

This list is obviously not meant to be prescriptive or accurate. Instead it’s intended to be a guide that I use as I check in every week to see how I have spent my time. I will report back my findings soon(:

Now get back to work.