Why You Shouldn't Be Proud Of A 60-Hour Workweek

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By Jeff Archibald

Your 60-hour work week is not a badge of honor. It's a problem.

There's a sense of pride over being able to state that we worked an exorbitant amount of hours this week, last week or last month. I know because I've done it in the past, and probably still do it. (Sigh.) After all, saying you worked a 60-hour week is indirectly telling the listener how busy your design firm is, how successful your product is, how important you are to your employer.

It's essentially a humblebrag.

But as you dig into the 60-hour work week, you realize it's a problem – and not just for the obvious reasons like work-life balance, burnout, how unhealthy it is, the errors that come with being tired and so forth.

Something is broken

If you're working 60 hours a week, something has broken down organizationally. You're doing two people's jobs. You aren't telling your boss you're overworked (or maybe they don't care). You're probably a pinch point, a bottleneck. You're far less productive. You're frantically swimming against the current, just trying to keep your head above water.

These signs? They are not the signs of a healthy business or work environment. I realize there are going to be those moments here and there, especially if you're a business owner or in the earlier stages of a startup. But if they're continual? Something's broken.

When I work 50 or 60 hour weeks at Paper Leaf, I'm doing something wrong. It means I haven't learned to balance my workload or manage my time. It means I haven't communicated to my team that I have too many things on my plate. It means we should hire someone, or at least sub something out. It means I'm working in the business as well as on it. It means I'm being a designer, a marketer, a business developer, a creative director and so on. I'm trying to do too many things.

I'm trying to be too many things.

We need to stop being proud of overworking ourselves. It's unhealthy, it stunts the growth of our businesses and it's unsustainable. Instead, we should be proud of creating or working in an environment that's efficient, organized and diligent enough to allow people to work regular hours on meaningful work.

It's something you can control – so what's stopping you?

Jeff Archibald is co-founder of a design firm in Edmonton called Paper Leaf, an award-winning shop focused on brand identities, websites and interfaces. If he's not learning, creating, speaking or herding cats, he's partaking in one of his many other loves: coffee, typography, whisky, cycling and the mountains.
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