How I Work 80+ Hours A Week Without Getting Burnt Out


 
am a workaholic by nature. I love working, and the feeling of being able to achieve something over time.

This, however, doesn’t mean I never get burnt out.

I still remember years ago, I was sitting in front of my computer and wasn’t in the greatest of moods. That was enough to push me over the line as I did not want to lift a finger on any work. I thought perhaps it was just a one-day ordeal, but it went on the next day as well.

I actually told my manager I needed a few days off and was feeling personal pressure on myself. My manager was incredibly considerate and gave me those days I needed to recoup myself.

I had many side projects that were going, however, and I would still need to continue the momentum. I decided to spend those next few days clearing out my schedule and focusing on relaxing and ‘re-inventing’ my schedule and my habits around work.

Since then, I have been able to put in solid work weeks without feeling burnt out. To give some context, those 80+ hours are a mixture of not only full-time work but my side startup, video editing, writing, and other mini-projects.

Of course, I still have occasional weeks where I don’t hit my 80+ hours due to other personal commitments, but I still aim to get my work done.

With that cleared, let’s look at how I manage to stay sharp over the last few years.

1. Have a reason why you need to work long hours.

I am starting this off, ironically asking a question you should ask yourself first.

Is there a need for you to work 80+ hours a week?

For me, personally, with the number of goals (which I will discuss) and side projects to focus on, I realize having enough hours to work on each one is needed.

That being said, if you don’t need to work long hours, then don’t do it. It’s essential to calculate how much time you really need to put into a specific project or side startup you’re working on.

Most importantly, if you’re working on something on the side with someone else, make sure everyone puts the same amount of time and effort into it.


2. Structure your week via time blocking.

Image for post
Source: https://clockify.me/blog/productivity/time-blocking/

concept that was popularized by Elon Musk, time blocking, is the act of defining specific time blocks for your tasks.

You probably already do this partially with your work calendar, but this is going one step ahead by defining specific events, activities, and even personal tasks all into your calendar.

A simple way to do this is:

  1. Gather BAU (business as usual) tasks that you have every week and jot them down in a list
  2. Add these tasks into specific timeslots within your calendar
  3. Aim to complete them by the next time block

For me personally, because it’s hard to guess what I need to do in every single project, I standardize it by the general activity I need to do. This could be ‘video editing’ or ‘write Medium article.’

In my opinion, you don’t need to use any fancy tools to schedule your timetable. Instead, using something simple like your calendar is enough.

3. Set ‘step’ goals and proclaim them.

It’s important to set up your week and your calendar ahead of time, even if they are general time blocks. It is equally important, however, to understand where you’re heading with all this activity.

For me personally, I like to set up ‘step’ goals.

Too many people set super unrealistic goals that could take a lifetime to achieve. Instead, focus on the short term benefits that help you achieve the long-term goal (which you should have as well).

To show an example, I usually like to set up weekly goals which I’d like to hit:

  • Complete three Medium articles
  • Edit two Youtube videos and publish one
  • Work on emails and marketing material for Yought (side startup)

Whatever the goal or timespan is, however, set realistic goals you can reach.

Additionally, make sure you proclaim these achievements.

Even if you’re not comfortable doing it publically in Facebook groups or communities, at least tell some of your friends about it. The best motivation is those around you, especially the ones that support you the most.

4. If you take a holiday, switch off completely.

Taking some time off is one of the most important activities you can do to restart and refresh.

Taking some solid time off, even if it is the weekend, once in a while, will always help.

“I find going away on holidays, even for the weekend or a week, can be incredibly refreshing,” explained Melanie Perkins, CEO of Canva.

“I personally like to go on quite adventurous holidays, as it doesn’t give me time to let my mind think about other things. It’s important to give your brain a break sometimes so it can come back refreshed.”

However, one of the worst habits I see people do on holidays (I included previously) are those who still switch on emails or stay connected to their work.

A holiday is meant for you to take a fresh breathe of air and not think about the very thing you’ve spent hours every day. To really use your holiday effectively, you have to switch off completely.

I am guilty of working on holidays in the past, but once I learned to switch off, I realized how refreshed you feel once you’re back.

5. You need a good sleep.

This is one of the most underrated but simplest habits you can adjust.

Having a bad sleep schedule not only affects your mood but your energy levels. In return, this affects your potential social interactions and the quality and quantity of work you can do.

Additionally, in my opinion, it’s not really when you sleep but how much you get.

Many gurus like to proclaim you to sleep at unrealistic times like 9 pm and wake up at 4 am, but I am not really advocating any of that.

Instead, stick to a schedule where you can get enough sleep. Although sleep needs can vary, sticking to around 7–9 hours is best for most people.

5. Find people who also love to work.

Humans are social creatures.

For me personally, if I were to work by myself every day, every week for the rest of the year, I’d probably go slightly insane.

This is why I love going to cafes or someone else’s place to do work. Knowing that someone else is also working, even if it is on completely different things, can help give you that extra bit of motivation to get things done.

Personally, for me, I have a ‘working partner’ who I at least do 2–3 days of work together a week. I have also been experimenting with another friend by doing an hour every day over Zoom, and that’s been working beautifully as well.

6. Vary your work locations.

Going off my point before, working with others, if possible, is great.

Even if you can’t, changing your work location can also help. This could be as simple as heading over to your local park or just sitting outside if you’re in lockdown.

I have found changing my work location semi-regularly has helped me liven up my mood and actually made me a better worker.

It’s not just me; however, there are plenty of others that also feel the same way as well.

7. Do things that make you happy and passionate.

To pull off 80+ hours every week on work, I admit it requires a lot of diligence.

This is why, as cliche as it sounds, working on things that make you happy and passionate should be a number one priority above everything else.

One of the most important things I have learned while maintaining long working weeks is sticking to work that makes you feel accomplished and optimistic.

Otherwise, what’s the point of working on something you have absolutely no passion for.

Final Note

Some of these might sound cliche, but mixing everything has helped me stick to a solid work schedule to work on everything I want to do. However, no matter the outcome, the one thing that pushes me beyond everything in my pursuit of working on things that make me happy and passionate.

For example, I want my side startup to turn into a full-time business one day, so I put in the hard yards now. Your overall goals should always help motivate you to put in extra hours.

Otherwise, if you don’t have any, there is no need to push for 80+ hours of the week. This doesn’t mean you won’t have any in the future though, take a look at what you want to do now and gauge how much effort you want to put into them.