In the book Rework, by 37 Signals, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier-Hansson discuss our culture of workaholism. They point out that we celebrate workaholics – those that burn the midnight oil and sacrifice their precious hours in a noble quest to getting things done. The more work they do, the more valuable they are to the company, or so the theory goes. It’s a ridiculous theory and the authors agree.
The reality is that workaholics only do one thing better than everyone else – work more. They don’t get things done faster or to a higher standard than anyone else, nor are they more invested in the project than others.
In fact, they do quite the opposite. Rarely is the solution to a problem a question of total hours expended and when you gravitate to longer days and later nights, creativity and precision suffers. This means your final outcome is less than ideal.
It also places an unnecessary burden on all the nonworkaholic team members, who are made to feel as if they’re putting in the minimum effort required. This adversely affects morale and risks converting the whole team into a group of insomniacs that are focused on working, rather than generating value.
By working less, you can do more because you’ll be:
More creative – great solutions require you to think quickly and on the spot, they’re not a function of time spent. With a clear and well rested head, you’ll be more creative.
Better motivated – when you’re exhausted, you’re less motivated and this can adversely affect morale, which affects everyone.
More focused – when you’re better rested you focus on the task at hand, rather than spending an inordinate amount of time solving smaller, less important issues. You won’t miss spending time on those areas.
We shouldn’t be championing workaholics, but the ones that are already home because they’ve figured out the solution.
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