Investment bankers and entrepreneurs love to trade horror stories about the number of hours they work in a week. 90, 100, 110 hour work weeks are seen as a badge of honor.

Anyone who has ever put in long hours knows that your productive output falls apart past a certain point. So why do we promote this culture of long hours if it doesn’t improve outcomes? Why do we tell ourselves this story?

Making it through those brutal weeks is part of the process of joining the tribe. People like us do things like this. Part of it is that it is seen as a sign of commitment. The number of hours you work must be directly correlated with your output and value, right?

But how do you explain companies that have shrunk the work week and seen a lift in productivity?

It makes sense if you think about focus time. If I know that I’m expected to work 80 hours a week then I’ll spread out my work to take 80 hours. Compressed time acts as a forcing effect. That’s part of the power of short meetings – we get the agenda accomplished in the allotted time.

Imagine how your day would look if your company tracked focus time as opposed to present time.

Sean

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