I worked in a startup accelerator and I used to work all the time.
When I say work all the time, I mean all 7 days, sometimes even 14 hours or more.
I was one of the core-members of the marketing team and my job was to take a start-up from seed funding to Series C funding in the shortest possible time.
It was a lot of work considering the survival of a company and its employees and even founders depended on our work.
I stayed 4 years there and in that time I acquired certain peculiar habits- some of which you might also have.
Habits Developed As A Result of Working All The Time
Obsessing over work
Before I started working all the time, I never obsessed about my work.
I used to go to the office on time, pack up and leave at exactly 5.30 PM.
People even used to make fun of me for being so punctual.
But ever since I joined a company that required me to work all the time, I have difficulty in “not obsessing about work”.
My mind is always thinking about different projects and my to do list is always full.
Full of useless things.
Even after I left the job and joined a new company, this peculiar habit stuck with me and I always needed a laptop in front of me.
Now, I’ve left the job intentionally trying to take a break and I am still obsessed about blogging, keyword research and even competitor analysis.
I hope by taking enough of a break, I would be able to stop obsessing over work and focus only on quality work.
I don’t know who invented multitasking, but I wonder if it is really something useful for humans.
I am an extreme multitasker and I hate doing one thing at a time.
The problem with this is that I am not able to give my full effort to any task at hand but now slowly but steadily, I am trying to focus on a singular task which I can do well.
One technique that I found very useful in focusing on a singular task is time blocking.
With this technique, I block out half an hour for a task and only focus on that particular work-nothing else.
It’s hard to block half an hour everyday if you have 100 things on your to do list but I think it’s better than doing multiple things together with average results for all tasks.
Having Regret About Free Time
When I was working all the time, I knew it was not good for me so I used to take breaks.
The problem was that when I was on a break, I felt like I could be doing something useful and started having regret about free time.
This regret started a vicious cycle of work + work + no breaks which almost drove me to breakdown and that’s when I just called it “Quits”.
If you have the habit of working all the time, I advise you to take more breaks without regrets and have strict work timings just like you would have if you were in office.
For example, make a habit to start working at 9.30 AM and don’t work beyond 5 PM.
This will give you enough free time in the evening to do the things that you actually love such as reading, cooking or even playing video games.
Always Thinking About Next Moves
The human mind is never satisfied.
We either live in the past or in the future.
If you are someone who has had a middle-class upbringing, you might be always worried about the future or thinking about your next moves.
This could be for career, relationships, or even trivial things such as weekends.
I’m also guilty of all this and even while I write this, I cannot help but think about what would be the next task on my to do list.
But I am trying to slow down and take one step at a time.
Not Taking Breaks
Like I mentioned before, I have this habit of not taking breaks.
I always like to keep myself occupied and when I am on a break, I would think that using this time for something productive would be so much better.
Then I get back to work.
Even when I know it’s unhealthy and can cause mental trauma, I cannot shake this habit.
When you work all the time, you are also signing up for frustration.
It can be frustrating to work with many people, work on so many to do lists and in the end you will just be frustrated with yourself.
This frustration could also be as a result of not taking breaks and when you are focusing on multiple projects, you need to see only half-baked results for all of them.
So these were some of the habits I had developed as a result of working all the time.
That being said, working all the time can also have some positive effects too.
Positives of Working All the Time
While I do not like the concept of multi-tasking, there is a productivity tip that is somewhat helpful for me.
This is called batching.
Batching is the concept in which tasks which are related to each other can be completed in one go.
For example, take the case of checking email.
If you have the habit of checking emails all through the day, you can lose a lot of time in responding to multiple people from across different email ids.
Nowadays what I do is check all emails once and then respond to everything and then completely close my inbox so that I do not get interrupted with my other tasks.
As I have been working for longer times at a stretch, I have learnt to use batching to complete similar tasks quickly and make up free time.
When you work all the time on many projects, having a to do list can save you from going completely mental.
I use a couple of apps to manage my to do list and they help me remember the things I need to finish for the day.
I have a small white board that I write the things to be done down.
I feel that writing by hand makes me remember these things better and I am starting to enjoy writing by hand again.
Figure out how to get things done
When you are working all the time, not many times you would be an expert for the task at hand.
Many times, you need to figure out how to get things done.
This could be related to anything, finding answers, solving problems or people management.
Because I was bound by strict deadlines and numerous tasks, I had to figure out how to get things done.
Ever since COVID-19 lockdown started, my daily routine has gone for a complete toss.
I now sleep at 5 AM, get up at 11. 30 AM, hardly eat anything healthy and have no exercise.
I know it sounds terrible, but I am trying to fix it.
I am trying to fix my sleep cycle, get my diet back in place and try to get some exercise in the house.
Even though I hated working all the time, one good thing with that was my daily routine was set.
Get up early, go for a walk, eat breakfast and out the door for work.
Now that we’re all confined to our homes, sticking to a daily routine will take more discipline than ever before. But I am trying.
Side Effects of Working All The Time
Needless to say, working all the time had many side effects on my daily life.
Stress & Anger
First on the list is stress.
I was stressed out for even the tinest of things and when my lunch delivery was late by a few minutes, I would be stressed because there was always a call or a meeting to attend.
Similarly, when other people slacked off, I would get stressed and I would even get angry because I was always working and I expected others to do the same.
One thing I have understood is that for most employees, a job is a means to an end.
Sure, there are some people who would work very hard but when people work for the sake of money, it is illogical to expect them to work all the time.
After leaving this toxic culture of working all the time, now I also believe that work should be inspiring, motivating and less stressful. Who knew it would take me so many years to figure this out.
Not having time for anything else
I never had time for anything else.
I like reading, talking walks and sometimes even watching stupid mindless movies.
After I started working all the time, I never had time for any of these hobbies and now that I am not working, I feel like I am finally having the time to indulge in some of these hobbies.
I am currently handling digital marketing for 3 clients for my days are packed, still I feel this is much better than a job that requires me to work all the time.
I dont want to sound like bragging, but I have always thought of myself as a creative person.
All writers are natually creative and sometimes you need creativity to even solve life’s daily challenges.
When you work all the time or your mind is occupied with tasks, your creativity takes a hit.
You are no longer creative, and I often found that I could not even think of business ideas.
Before me joining this company, I would always come up with creative ways to make money online, but working all the time ruined my creativity and made me a dud.
How to Quit Working All the Time
Quiting Your Job
If you can related to any of the things I have mentioned, I urge you to consider quitting your job.
Note: I mentioned consider-only you know your financial situation and your skills.
I always had people reach out to me for digital marketing services so I knew that even if I quit my job, my rent and food will be taken care of.
If there is any such option for you, you can consider quitting your job.
Take a break
If quitting your job sounds too extreme, then consider taking a break.
When I say a break, I mean at least 10 days of not working.
During this time, think of ways to live if you were to lose your job tomorrow.
Don’t sign up for any get quick rich schemes advertised on Facebook (they are all fraudsters), just think how you can make a living online.
If you want, we can brainstorm together for some ideas you can use the chat at the bottom to leave me a message, I will send you an email to get our conversation started.
Make a radical change
For some reason, I am not able to make small changes in my life.
I rather do radical changes and stick to it than going slowly.
It has worked for me and if you find yourself in the trap of working all the time, you can consider making a radical change to your life and then following up this radical change with every day changes.
Everyone has hobbies.
If you cannot think of a hobby, think back to the time when you were a kid and what you enjoyed doing the most.
If you can do the same task now, pick it up as a hobby.
I am starting to write again and I think I will continue writing till I get bored of it.
Few years back, I used to read philosophy a lot.
I used to read Marcus Aurelius, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Rabindranath Tagore and even Kahlil Gibran.
When I started working all the time, I lost the habit of reading and even forgot what I had read in these books.
Now, I am gravitating back towards Stoicism and Minimalism.
I will get getting rid of a lot of my stuff and plan to go for life on the road once this COVID-19 non-sense is over.
As a last piece of advise, do not work all the time.
After working all this time, I still got kicked out of the company I founded and literally ended up with nothing for all the hours I worked extra.
Even if it is for your own business, I urge you to take a step back and reflect on what you are doing and why you are doing it.
Talk to you soon,