The “Working Endless Hours” Debate
If you follow the startup scene’s chatter lately, you will likely have seen the heated debate about working every hour of the day versus nine-to-five. On one side of the debate, you have people like David Heinemeier Hansson of Basecamp-fame (writing this). On the other, you have folks like Gary V (saying this). And a lot has been written about the rift between both sides lately.
As much as I agree with calling BS on the “hustle hard” rhetoric (just look at this campaign for Apple’s “Planet of the Apps” show), I believe it’s less a question of picking one of the extremes but of understanding the spectrum.
Generally speaking, I follow the logic that working solid hours with enough downtime to spend with your friends, family, and hobbies is crucial. We have numerous studies showing that for peak performance it is important to rest and rejuvenate. For some this might be 40 hours a week (as is the case with the Basecamp folks), for others, it’s a bit more or less.
Understanding that building a startup means building the train (and rebuilding it from time to time) while you’re laying the tracks also means that there will be moments when it’s “hustle time.” Having said that, hunkering down and working long hours should be the exception, not the norm.