People are surprised when I tell them I put in 70 to 75 hours of work every week and get about five hours of sleep every day. The typical responses are “Your Company makes you do that much work?” Or, “Doesn’t your boss realize that is a lot of work?”
The New World of Work
We live in a world characterized by intense competition, globalization, greater volatility than before, and demands for higher personal effectiveness. To be successful in the new world of work, we cannot stipulate the specific number of hours we should put in every day. Our accomplishment in these hours, not the number of hours, is the yardstick of our performance assessment. In fact, a 65 to 70 hour workweek has become the norm for getting ahead in leadership roles.
What Works for You
My guideline for how long you should work is, “Work as many hours as you think you need to achieve your goals, realize your aspirations and be happy.”
Note the emphasis on individuality in the above statement. Not everybody faces the same kind of demands; not everybody is equally productive. Nor does everybody have the same kind of aspirations. The number of hours you should work should depend on the opportunities you face and what you intend to do with them. It is a choice you have to make—a choice between components of your personal and professional lives.
If you are an entrepreneur, you may need to work 80-90 hours a week developing your idea; this involves sacrificing out-of-work activities. If you have an eight-to-five job, wish to spend lots of time with family and attend all of your son’s football games, you may work as little as forty hours a week, the minimum expected at your workplace. However, this may involve slower job growth. If you are a stay-at-home mom, and would like to put your engineering skills to good use, you may find a job that will allow you to work out of home. Make the appropriate choices and chart your life course on what works best for you.
- A year-2002 study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation concluded that the average American employee works 46 hours per week; see reference.
- General Electric’s Chairman and CEO, Jeffrey Immelt is regarded as one of the hardest working executives in corporate America. An article written by Geoffrey Colvin of the Fortune magazine in September 2005 quotes Jeff Immelt saying he works 100 hours a week. See this article for insights to Jeff’s disciplined work style.