You’ve heard all the talk about hard work, how it’s the most important thing. Do you ever feel as if you’re working too hard without any results? How about not working hard enough?
I believe that it’s better to work too much than not work enough. This quote supports my view:
The different between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra. – Jimmy Johnson
Hard Work Pays Off, Right?
We all know that hard work is ultimately the only way to achieve what you want (yeah, those internet advertisements lied to us all, sneaky buggers), but how ‘hard’ should hard work be? How long should it be?
The Problem With Working Too Long
We get the impression that since we’re working for a long period of time, we might as well take it slowly. Now you may think that you’re better than everyone else, and things like that don’t happen to you, but they do. Our subconscious uses this against us; it’s the opposite to becoming more productive the last minute before a deadline.
We get bored and procrastinate. I think of boredom like a siren before a tidal wave, it’s telling you that something’s coming – you need to run, or the wave of procrastination will flow over you. Slightly weird analogy, I know (but aren’t they all?) With our attention spans, working too long can cause us to become bored and procrastinate, this is why I encourage diversity.
The quality of work isn’t as good. Why? Because we lose focus. I’ve been reading a book called Willpower: Why Self-Control is the Secret to Success, and the authors write a lot about how our willpower becomes depleted after making many decisions, and as our willpower decreases, our ability to make the right decisions suffers. It’s not BS either, studies have shown this. We’re constantly making decisions as we work; you can see how long periods of time can affect the quality of our work in the end.
The Problem With Not Working Long Enough
We’re not making the most of our time. I used to plan my day down to the minute, I’d finish tasks way earlier than expected and spend the rest of my allocated time on something useless like Facebook or Youtube. If we don’t work long enough, what else are we gonna do? Sure, if you’ve got something important, then it’s okay. Don’t justify yourself not working by making up excuses such as, “I don’t wanna become stressed.” Or, “I just worked really fast today.”
We develop the wrong mindset. The mindset that we don’t need to work ‘that’ hard to reach success. Let’s be honest, we need to work as hard as we possibly can. Other than buying a lotto ticket, there’s no shortcut to reaching your financial goals. If we only spend 3 hours a day working, we might achieve small goals. This develops the mindset; we’re succeeding at the moment, so why work harder? You have to put in perspective.
Progress is much slower. I’ll be real for a second. Sure, you can reach success working only 3 hours a day – but by the time that happens you’ll probably be on your death bed (or close to it). Don’t fall for the idea that you only need to work four hours a week like Tim Ferris to achieve great success. I can guarantee that he worked a number of 16 hour days to get where he is now. Increasing your work time = living the good life sooner.
Sailing Through the Storm
I said it at the beginning and I’ll say it again: Overworking is better than not working enough; you can become burnt out, tired, stressed – but you’re still being far more useful.
Working Through Everything and Anything
I’m talking the whole day, dawn to dusk, working on projects and tasks. Do I really have to explain the benefit of doing this? We can get SO MUCH done. It actually blows my mind how much I can get done sometimes, I’m sure you’ve had the same feeling (if you haven’t, read my blog more often). When you realize how much you can get done in one day, you start seeing more consistent results, you plan more tasks, and you feel much more fulfilled.
The Downside to working through the whole day is that our productivity is rarely consistent, it takes a lot of willpower to work 12-16 hours a day. And like I said above, we become less wary of our decision when our willpower decreases.
The Right Way to Work Through the Day
Arrange your tasks. Make sure you have time for tasks that don’t require much ‘thought power’, as I like to call it; tasks that are still beneficial but not overly hard. One particular task in my case would be social media marketing, or deleting and replying to emails.
Make sure you take consistent breaks. I’ve talked about this in my Boost Your Productivity by Doing Nothing Article. Without breaks we’d probably give up on life, or something like that. Don’t underestimate the power of taking breaks! Just remember to not let those breaks turn into an hour long Youtube video, or playing League of Legends.
Set Goals. If you’re working throughout the day, it’s pretty important you have some sort of plan. I use a to-do list, nothing more, nothing less. I know what I need to do, and I do my best to complete that to-do list by the end of the day. I use HabitRPG for this. You might prefer something else, that’s fine – make sure you have some sort of plan though.
Should I work?
The Final Word
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t manage to work long enough hours, if you have a 9-5 job and you’re also working on your own projects then it can be really hard. Just remember to keep on sailing through the storm, and don’t worry about working too much!
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