Why working long hours is a hoax

breakfast at your desk

I can remember back to my corporate days when the hours people worked was a major point of discussion in the office. Management and staff would really pay attention to when people arrived at the office, and when they left. It kinda seemed like they didn’t really care if they were actually working, or just staring at a screen, but that they were in the office. The original ‘FaceTime’. Personally I think it is one of the most ridiculous things to emerge from office culture. You’d hear people explaining their office FaceTime regime:

‘I like to come early and leave early.’

‘I prefer to arrive late and stay late.’

I’d always counter this with my preference of coming later and leaving early. While they all thought I was kidding, it was the truth and I pretty much did just that. I guess I missed out on many career promotions because of it, but at least it helped me find my true path as an entrepreneur, author and running my own startups. I’m glad I’m not in that world and here’s my theory on the number of hours we work:

Reasonable time is enough time to achieve big goals.

It is not the hours we put in, but what we put into the hours. I’m living proof. I’d add that once you stop wasting your time in pointless meetings about upcoming meetings, and alignment sessions, it’s amazing what can be done. When you decided and then do, you basically invent time. An idea happens at 10am (remember I start late) and you implement by 11am, then finish by 12pm (remember I like to finish early). Do this and you’re probably months ahead of every company you ever worked for.

And in the words of the great Brian Tracy, the worst use of time is to do efficiently something which ought not be done at all.

You should totally read my book – The Great Fragmentation.

Office Culture – Coffee vs Education

The of two important cultural phenomenons got me thinking about office culture again. The love of coffee and the love of the internet. Both have a massive stake in western world office culture. Most people engaged in anything from small to large companies have omnipresent access to both. But the perception of each is vastly different.

But as far as I can tell the following is true:

Coffee: If you are at the coffee machine, making a coffee or buying one at the local espresso house in the morning no one looks twice. In fact it is respected and expected, part of the culture. A simple coffee fix is fair play in an office environment. Regardless of the fact that it is during work hours.

Internet: If you are surfing the web (excluding facebook) and potentially reading an article within your industry scope it looks bad. People see it as avoiding work or wasting time. It’s evident that this belief exists by the number of ‘click outs’ people do as others walk by. When in reality, this is a vital part of being effective and up to date.

What they both point to is the importance of culture. Both the macro societal one and the internal one. I’m starting to believe that culture is at the apex of company output. And the culture we foster determine the people we attract and the output we create. One thing I know for sure, is that in a rapidly changing business landscape I’d rather have an informed set of staff working for me, than a set of robots who are operating on the punch clock paradigm.


The multi tasking hoax

Multi-tasking is a hoax. In fact it’s one of the worst developments associated with the personal computer revolution. It robs us of time, reduces focus, and has a negative impact on reaching deadlines adn getting stuff done. So here is my top 10 list of ways to avoid the multi-tasking hoax:

  1. Only have one computer application open at a time
  2. Only check your emails at 2 designated times of the day (say 9am and 3pm)
  3. Don’t write long to do lists (guilty). Instead write down the answer to this question: ‘The one thing I must finish today’
  4. Close your eyes while taking phone calls to ensure you listen to the other party.
  5. Learn to say ‘no’. Tell the other person why, you can’t do it, or offer for them to pick something to drop off.
  6. Meditate daily. Think about long term goals
  7. Focus on depth of activities, not number of activities completed. Do less things, better.
  8. Never tell anyone you are busy. We are all busy. It leads to pin balling around stuff instead of finishing.
  9. have defined goals for the year. Ask yourself each morning how your are moving towards them.
  10. Add your item for number 10 in the comments.

Startup Blog says: Multitasking is your enemy. Avoid it.