I’ve come to learn that working more hours isn’t the most effective way of producing more output. In fact, more hours don’t even necessarily translate to more output. Too many hours can lead to burnout or decreased productivity; productivity might even be negative if more time gets spent repairing the mistakes made when you’re tired than on building value.
The Single, Most Valuable Lesson I’ve Learned in My Professional Life
At some point, you’ll realize that there’s more work to be done than you have time available, and you’ll need to prioritize what to get done. You’ll learn that working more hours isn’t a sustainable solution to increasing your impact; instead, you’ll need to work smart and make better choices about what to do or not do.
The worst part was the guilt. I felt enormously guilty every second I wasn’t doing something that could advance my career or earn money. I would pace around like a neurotic rat, coming up with random chores to distract myself. When the chores were finished, I’d think, “Okay… Now what?” Any activity that didn’t feel productive – sleeping in, watching TV, taking a trip – filled me with regret. There was this gnawing sense that I was wasting time. I was losing money. And yet, I had no desire to work.
I wanted to impress other people with my “success” of founding a company. I wanted to be rich. And I wanted to avoid feeling bad for not working.
The problem was… I didn’t really care about what I was doing.
“Adults are just obsolete children.” – Dr. Seuss5
Have you ever witnessed a little kid working out on a treadmill?
Or meeting up with a friend to chat over coffee?
Or wearing a suit and making cold-calls?
Or attending a networking conference to hand out their business cards?
HELL NO. That stuff is lame and boring. If you saw a kid doing any of those things, you would laugh and wonder what the hell was wrong with them.
Kids don’t run to get in shape; they run to feel the grass beneath their feet and the wind on their face.
Kids don’t have a chat over coffee; they pretend and make jokes and explore the outdoors.
Kids don’t go to work; they play their favorite games.
Kids don’t network; they bond with other fun kids while playing.
There is no ego. There is no guilt. There is no past to regret, and no future to worry about. They just play.
And that’s what I’d forgotten, what I’d been missing, all along.
Giving myself permission to PLAY was the cure for my anxiety. It was a subtle but powerful shift in how I viewed the world. Preventing Burnout: A Cautionary Tale & How I Cured My Anxiety
I don’t know why the word “lazy” gets such a bad rap — I’m a big fan of lazy.
Here’s why: Lazy is a smart man’s motivation to get from point A to B as quickly as possible. A lazy person knows there’s lots of life and fun to be experienced, so finding the shortcuts through the slough just makes a lot more sense than dragging your feet down a long road. Retiring at 27: Ambitious, Lazy or Crazy?