“Rich — just started working here a few weeks ago. I’m starting to get emails from my boss and peers with timestamps of 2:00 and 3:00 AM. Getting nervous here — I am NOT going to work 60-70 hour weeks — what should I do?”
First off — don’t worry. There are certain situations where people work crazy hours:
- Startups - everything is on the line to deliver and the benefit is all yours if you SUCCEED.
- Emergencies - something is broken and you need to fix it IMMEDIATELY.
- End Of Projects - everything is coming down to the wire and you must DELIVER.
- Reduced Staff - you’ve lost a valuable resource and someone has to do the work or the engine STOPS.
- S*** Happens – too much work, too many interruptions, too many meetings, you just have to get past this and get back on track.
THE FUNNY THING:
All of these situations are temporary (for the most part). Unfortunately, a lot of people get locked into a ‘busy-busy-busy’ mindset and they turn ‘temporary’ into a permanent situation.
AND THAT’S WHEN THE TROUBLE BEGINS.
It begins to affect:
- Your health.
- Your family.
- The quality of your work.
- YOUR SANITY.
HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:
1. Just Starting A Job or Project — You need to work some heavy hours to not only learn the lay of the land, but to set expectations for your boss, peers, and team. Say at least 50-60 hours a week for about 90 days. Then you can cull back your hours to a reasonable 40-50.
2. New Boss Or Client — Kick up your hours and visibility and watch what your boss does. Are they an early-bird? Do they stay late? You need to establish the perception of a ‘hard-worker’ to them and then once built in, you can then cull back your hours slowly.
The whole idea is to work smarter, not harder/longer. But you do have to deliver a perception of working hard so most people don’t feel you are short-changing them. It’s a weird generational thing — but you have to do it.
Hold the line — if you get questions about your schedule ask them:
“Has the quality of my work suffered?”
“Were you not able to reach me in an emergency?”
“Am I not always available when needed?”
Their response will always reconfirm your decision to work normal hours. Trust me. If you are in a situation or location where crazy hours are the norm, you might want to reassess what is REALLY important to you — the money or your life.
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P.S. Did this article hit a nerve? If so, let’s talk. I’ve worked with many clients who have the same questions — and we developed a successful plan to tackle their insecurities. I schedule infrequent complimentary sessions – catch one today.