Do You Really Need to Work 12+ Hour Days?

Entrepreneurship is famously associated with the 'hustle'.  There is a culture around 'if you're an entrepreneur you will never stop working and never get any sleep', and whilst that's partly true in the sense that a lot more work is required and therefore there is less sleep, I personally think that insane hours all of the time is unhealthy. Let me explain.

- - -

The Hustle.

This is a difficult topic for me to write about because I absolutely 110% believe in hustling, putting in the work and doing what it takes to make it. It's also hard because I absolutely adore Gary Vee, but I'm going to challenge a quote of his here. He speaks about this often, and whilst he is one of my biggest heroes, he can be a bit of a contradiction. On one hand he says that his lifestyle of 16 hour days and back to back meetings wouldn't work for everyone and that he doesn't recommend it as a formula. However in his most recent release The #AskGaryVee Book (which is fantastic, definitely buy the audiobook), he says that if you're starting a business it's just like having a baby. You need to drop everything else in your life and work for 15 out of the 17 hours you are awake.

So this is where the debate comes in. There are experts like Gary who say you should do those 12+ hour days, but then there are other experts that say you should do less, because working around the clock is actually counter-productive, bad for your brain and will burn you out. So this is my take on it:

Time and place.

I believe that you can and should pull crazy hours, all nighters and hustle your ass off when there is a pressing issue or you're chasing something important. For example if you have a spontaneous meeting that results in a spectacular opportunity for an enormous deal or partnership that you need to submit in less than 24 hours. Go to the office and don't sleep until it's done. Or if you have a launch party and media appearances planned for an app and all of a sudden you find a huge error that comprises the entire product just 48 hours before the launch (which literally happened to me) this is an appropriate time to go all out. But doing this everyday would destroy your health.

Fake hours.

I don't think working like this every day is healthy, and more importantly, I also think that a lot of the people who claim to do those crazy hours are actually doing it. Gary Vee is an exception who makes every single minute count, but the majority of others do not follow suit. I do not work 15 hours a day. But I do work 7 days a week consistently, and the hours that I DO put in are full of incredibly productive, focused, high quality tasks. It's better to do 7 hours of high quality work than 12 - 15 hours of work mixed with chit chat, distractions and unnecessary tasks. In my working hours, there is nothing that is unproductive. If I stray for even 15 minutes to have a coffee I don't even count that as work. So if I were to log my hours, those little distractions would be not be included and as such, would have less minutes contributed on paper.

I could easily log 15 hours every day if I filled the remainder of my time with less important or low quality work. But that would be pointless and counter productive. That's time you could have for exercising, reading, time with loved ones and other pressing life tasks that require your attention. Most importantly, it's time spent doing other productive life tasks instead of bragging about your fake hustle. 

The two keys: consistency and quality.

For me, productivity and success is all about CONSISTENCY and high quality. I personally think that 7 - 9 hours of productive tasks at LEAST 5 days a week (around 4-5 hours on weekends) is far better than working 15 hour blocks every few days (or weeks).

So to summarise, it's not about how many hours work,  it's about the quality of those hours. The classic mantra of QUALITY over QUANTITY. And remember, being successful is about persistence and the long game; life and business is a marathon, not a sprint. It's funny how another contradiction from Gary Vee comes in right at the end here in a great quote of his that pretty much sums up my entire point.

It’s not about how much you sleep, it’s about what you do when you’re awake
— Gary Vaynerchuk

So there's my opinion, what's your take on it? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter at @mitchills. And don't forget to grab a copy of Gary Vee's latest release The #AskGaryVee Book. Enjoy!