Lately I’ve been thinking about a few things about time:
It’s really common in Japan to say that you should be working at 100% horsepower with only 3 hours of sleep a day. And as a matter of fact, it seems many successful people do operate and even insist on such sleep schedules.
It seems that a lot of Japanese workers try to maximize the amount of output they produce, as well as the time they put in producing that output. The basic idea is simple: Maximum output per time unit multiplied by maximum time put in work yields maximum results.
On the other hand, I do agree with the thoughts of DHH and Jason Fried on how you should try to maximize your working hours, not necessarily try to enlong it. Jason Fried’s argument in “Rework” was that most people’s working hours are shitty hours and that you only need short bursts of concetrated work time to get things done.
His argument is that maximum output can only be achieved for limited amounts of time throughout the day. Instead of trying to spend more time with diluted quality, his argument is to spend less time working, but with 100% quality. So quality over quantity.
Tim Ferris’s famous Four-Hour Work Week also proposed a similar theme - effectiveness and efficiency are two different things. It doesn’t matter if you are efficient if you are working on the wrong things.
I’ve found that personally as an individual that works in a rather creative field, the latter argument is more convincing and is more practical. I’m sure science can back it up as well.
If one is engaged in only simple tasks throughout the day, maximizing work time and trying to stretch the output per time unit might work to some extent.
On the other hand, if you’re in a creative field, that won’t really work - your creative mind is what will get the job done. Frying your creative mind definitely won’t do the job.
The problem is that for people like me, I like to work. I love to code and I would do it all day long. I always think that the key to improving is to code more, read more, experiment more - even if it means sacrificing a few hours of sleep.
Lately, I’ve been following these internal guidelines, which seem to be practical for people like me:
For people like me who want to maximize output, it seems that the key is realizing that maximizing output can be achieved far better by sleeping more, prioritizing, and trying to work more quality hours.