busy != productive

Hard work doesn't have to mean long hours

I just did my first ever LinkedIn Live - click through to watch it, or you can just read my notes below (which aren’t quite as complete as what I spoke about)

busy != productive

Were brought up with idea that hard work brings rewards. Put in the hours and you'll get your just desserts eventually. Delayed gratification. Jam tomorrow.

You might call it the Protestant work ethic - although I have it and I'm an atheist. In fact I was taught it by my auntie who was a Zoroastrian who was went to a catholic convent school. She once said to me “you do realise that because you're brown you'll have to work twice as hard as a white person?” Then when she saw my face she responded with “you think that's bad, I'm a woman so I have to work four times as hard”.

Anyway, so we are brought up with this idea that if you put in the hours and you work hard then you'll get the rewards for it.

Firstly I have to say that just because you work hard doesn't mean you're going to get rewards. There are millions of chancers who were born into the right place at the right time who cream off massive rewards without any idea of what hard work actually is.

But there's also a really insidious consequence of this idea that a lot of us carry with us.

We link working hard and long hours.

If you don't work 11 hours per day then you're not really working. If you don't miss out on sleep then you don't deserve the rewards. If you don't sacrifice the important years with your kids you're getting nothing.

To which I say ballbags.

Working hard might not guarantee you rewards but it's a good first step.

But long hours do not count.

You could spend 6 hours digging a hole followed by 6 hours filling it again. That's both hard work and long hours. But it's hardly productive is it?

If you want the rewards - whatever those rewards might be for you - travel, a nice house, knowing that your kids are going to have a decent life. However you define it, if you want those rewards what really matters is productive work.

Often that's hard. Sometimes it involves long hours. But always it has to be focussed. Directed. So you get the maximum bang for your buck.

I wasted years thinking 12 hour days would get me results. I missed out on a lot of time with my family as a result. Time I'll never get back.

So now I've built my business around my time. Because for me there's nothing more important.