What are your general work hours?

Hi Elphas - I know I'm not the only one here who thinks about this. I am constantly battling with how much I "should" be working everyday as a full time founder of an early stage startup. I'm always comparing myself to other people, touting that they work 14 hour days and weekends, but it is completely unsustainable for me. I recently cut back to working 5-8 hours on Fridays and Sundays, and start my working days at 8 and end at 8, but it's so hard to feel like I am emotionally, physically, and mentally prepared to take on the work week like this. Any tips?
I think the number of hours one "ought" to work as a founder is a dangerous metric. I think it puts pressure on quantifying your work input instead of your work output, while also completely negating individual circumstances such as health, family obligations, commute, to name a few. I don't think there's a golden rule for how much you should be working as a founder so long as you find that your time is serving your company's needs and growth at the time, all the while being mindful of how you are feeling, mentally and physically. I've heard so many stories of burnout from founders who push themselves to 14-18hr days and needless to say, it may be highly productive for a short burst but very unsustainable long term. Ps. I shared a related poll not too long ago here as well:
Hello!Let me start by saying that there is A LOT of shaming going on - in the startup community and frankly anything that is mildly competitive. Because one person works for 14 hours then that should be the standard? You said it yourself it is not sustainable for you, I'd then encourage you to not do it or even attempt it! It ultimately comes down to what works for YOU! I am an early bird and get a lot of stuff done in the morning and some of my friends often tell me "Oh I wish I could be like you" to which I say "no you are you and you establish a system that works for you, don't be like me because it sounds appealing it has to serve you" I also don't believe I am the voice of reason when it comes to these things (though that would be nice haha). The point is DO YOU!Questions to ask yourself in that process:- When is your brain the most responsive? Make your brain work for you and leverage- When are you less likely to be distracted?- When are you having a high / less cranky and thus are more likely to let go of BS?- What are the things you dread the most at work - if so for any "hard" task do an easy one for your brain and to see progress - by breaking things down you are more likely to see the end of it and in turns feel motivated to tackle your workBasically figure out the little arrangements that work the best for you: it's about minimal input, exponential result.All in all, it is all about quality, not quantity - if you are working for 14 hours but 12 of those you are just sitting there checking social media then that's probably not the most effective use of your time. Us human LOVE to use numbers and those types of hard metrics without giving them much meaning but sit down and have a honest convo with yourself to figure what suits you best.And lastly please do not listen to the outside noise of whatever person does, that's taking your focus away - and you can't afford that in a world that is already feeding you sooo much distraction!
If you burn yourself out, your project is going to suffer right along with you. Who cares what other people do? Figure out a pace you can sustain, and map what needs to be done onto that, not the other way around.
Hi Madison!How early is "early-stage"? The first year of a startup requires some level of work insanity to get the company off the ground. Its unavoidable to be working nights and weekends until the thing has paying customers and a real trajectory. I did this for over a year with my company, and while I still often work weekends, it's not such a dramatic thing anymore. Now that we're more stable, I've changed my concept of productivity from hours worked to important tasks completed. Make a prioritized list of tasks to do for the day and check them off. If you finish early, decide if you want to add a few lower-impact tasks to the day or not (not doing this some days is fine). If you can't finish a task in a day, break it into two or however many is needed. Some days are longer than others - and this is where balance is achieved.IMO, nobody is productively working 14+ hour days and weekends - not a soul on this earth. They might get an hour or so of deep work in during that time, then the other 13 is really coffee breaks, "meetings", etc. where the impact is progressively less and the tasks are more like busy work. The most productive and talented folks I know work an absolute maximum 6 hours uninterrupted deep work in a day. Usually its 4 or less. But the deep work is where greatness happens, and nobody can sustain that for a long period of time, day after day.So my advice is always to tackle your biggest challenges in as uninterrupted of a manner as possible at the time you work best (for me, productivity golden hours are from 10am till early afternoon) and then feel proud of yourself and take the rest of the day's tasks easy. Once you find your golden hours, don't allow other tasks to be scheduled during that time - no "meetings" or demos. Those can almost always be scheduled for other times in the day.Good luck - you've got this!
Thank you so much for your help, this is incredible feedback. I love prioritizing the hardest work first, and the meeting stuff later on. COVID changed our business completely where we launched in Feb but we are providing wellness classes over live video... so it was like a deluge of keeping up. I just took a weekend off and feel totally refreshed.
Hey Madison - this is something I've struggled with too. I'm in the early stages of a startup and I'm also the mom of twin toddlers who keep me extra busy. I don't have the capacity or the energy to work 14-hour days anymore and it really had me questioning whether this is something I want to continue. Right now I work 8:30-3:30 Mon-Thurs, try to do a half-day on Fridays. And a few nights a week I work 5PM-9PM. I'm trying not to play the comparison game right now because there's a lot of guilt when I feel like I'm working less than other founders. I believe successful companies can be built by strategically deciding where to spend my time, not just the amount of time I'm spending. I want to be a role-model to other women entrepreneurs that we can build things our own way, in our time and we don't need to follow the prescribed startup path.That being said, I don't have plans to build a venture-backed company (and that's where things might be different for you). You're not alone - there are many of us in the same boat. You've got this!
Thank for your vulnerability Kylie. I totally agree about the strategy part!
I really liked this article about how "The outdated myth of the ‘growth at all costs’ entrepreneur is hurting women."