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How I’ve Learned To Get Through A 100-Hour Workweek In One Piece

Source | FastCompany : By William Harris

I hate work. To some extent, we all do. But I don’t hate my job, and sometimes my passion pushes me to work a lot harder and longer than I usually like to. Other times, circumstances do. In either case, pulling 80- or even 100-hour workweeks sucks beyond description. And while I’m not proud of it—and by no means recommend it—I’ve had enough of them to have figured out a strategy for making it through a truly awful work bender without having a mental breakdown. Here’s how:

KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DEALING WITH

Anytime you’re looking at what’s shaping up to be a totally hideous, round-the-clock workweek, the very first step is to try and dodge it—or at least make it less hideous. Pulling insane hours is no act of heroism; real heroes work hard to make time for things that actually matter in life, like family, friends, and community. If you can’t manage to do that, then in a sense you’ve already failed. So with that foremost in mind, make absolutely certain that the week of overwork you’re facing truly is something you just can’t avoid.

Then get your plan straight. A lot of people will tell you that you can’t actually focus and be productive working that many hours—and they’re at least halfway right. It’s possible to work crazy hours more or less productively when circumstances demand it, but it isn’t sustainable, and you have to find the right routine.

For some, that means using the Pomodoro technique; for others it’s the 52/17 method. Ultimately, both involve “batching”—sorting your tasks by type so you can tackle similar things in designated blocks of time—in combination with your brain’s natural rhythms. Certain times of the day, our brains will be better conditioned to tackle one “batch” of tasks than another.

On an especially ugly workweek, I typically start at 8 a.m. and can wind up working until 2 a.m. or later, Monday through Saturday, then try to just tie up any loose ends on Sunday, when I can start regaining my sanity. But the key, until then, is to set the right rhythm from the outset and keep it going through the week.

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