I was listening to Kendra present at Redgate recently and she said this: Working predictable hours makes me better at my job. Actually, she said she was not better at her job by working longer.
Kendra has been very successful, she’s driven and a bit of a workaholic. I used to think I was, but after spending a few years at Redgate with her, she can outwork me these days. Of course, she has a bit of youth on her side. We both, however, realize that more work isn’t sustainable, or even good for either the employer or employee.
There is plenty of research that shows working above 50 hours constantly makes you worse at your job, at least when you are doing thought work. For more physical work, your body breaks down, and likely you will struggle with health as you near retirement.
Kendra has a good list for setting boundaries in her life. Many of these are things that I’ve implemented over the years in my life. In the last few years I’ve gotten rid of many notifications that interrupt life, as well as set Do No Disturb hours on my phone. Rarely have I missed anything important, and I’ve avoided plenty of early am “quick questions” from the UK. Apparently they are as bad at calculating time zones as I am.
At the same time, I like unpredictable schedules, but fairly predictable hours. I don’t like a rigid schedule, and I try to ensure if I have standing items, they are on a few days so I have flexibility on other days. I like being able to take breaks during the day to go to the gym or work on something around the house. I certainly like the freedom to stop working on a Tuesday if I don’t feel productive and making up time on Saturday or Sunday.
This past year has really been a very predictable schedule for me and others because we couldn’t go many places. We woke up, walked to another part of our house, worked, and then repeated that over and over. Some of us did a better job of learning to stop working after certain hours, and some did a worse job and spent more time working.
No matter what type of structure you use, remember that you need to take care of yourself. Your physical and mental health aren’t worth sacrifice for an organization. While you do owe your employer an honest day’s (or week’s) work, you also owe yourself a balance. Do your best work, which also means limiting how much you tackle every week.