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I disagree with this sentence from that article: "You could probably work twice as many hours as a corporate employee, and if you focus you can probably get three times as much done in an hour.". You cannot work double the hours and be more productive. If you work 80 hours on a continual basis, you will get less done than if you worked 40 hours. I have seen smart people reduced to blubbering idiots by the hours they put in through misguided passion.

The true productivity benefit from going into business for yourself is not that you can put in more effort. The human capacity for productive work is not that flexible, because we are not machines. The real multiplier is that you can direct your effort at that which truly matters. Most businesses spend 10% of their budget on 90% of their value. If you can work smarter you can get dramatically more done because you are building that which truly matters. That is where the PG article is right.

But, here's the problem with what I'm saying: people working crazy hours succeed. Everyone can see that. How can that be explained? In my opinion, those people succeed despite those hours, not because of them. It is their laser-like focus on reaching a goal that makes them succeed, but it is also this focus which makes them put in more hours thinking it brings success home sooner. It don't think it does, but it's almost impossible to prove it doesn't because there just aren't many places where highly passionate and focused people stick religiously to a 40 hour work schedule.




You cannot work double the hours and be more productive

You can't simply put typical workers on a schedule that's twice as long and expect more productivity, that's true. Individually, though, you can normally become extraordinarily more productive if you have the right motivation.

people working crazy hours succeed.

Why is this such a mystery? Haven't you ever thrown yourselves into a new startup or idea and spent every waking hour on it for long periods of time because you were excited by what you were doing and it didn't feel like you were working? Haven't you ever gone to sleep thinking about your ideas, and jumped out of bed right away the next morning like a kid on Christmas and then worked on those ideas, barely wanting to take time to eat, at last breaking away from what you're working on late at night because you know you need to get some sleep? Maybe it's a gene that allows some people to go into that mode. Maybe it's just a matter of finding the right motivation. Regardless, it appears that people who don't experience it can't understand it any more than blind people can really appreciate colors.


Get off the high horse. I am sure most people here experienced the "passionate" phase you mentioned. The problem arises when the passion fades, and you look back at the code with a clear head and realized how shitty they are.


Passion leaves a nasty hangover of bugs. I've gotten jazzed on Vietnamese coffee and hacked my compiler all through the night and into the morning on a Friday night.

I then had to spend the next several days fixing all the damn bugs I'd put in because I wasn't thinking straight.


Maybe getting into the kind of rhythm I'm talking about isn't for everyone. Hard to say. All I know is that when I've been able to "turn it on" in my career, I've had productivity that went on for months. Social life at the time sucked, but that's the tradeoff I was willing to make at the time.


I can crunch, but once I start losing sleep it's just damaging.




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