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Why Working 140 Hours a Week Won't Make You a Better Entrepreneur

No way, they tell you. You can't take an afternoon off and go for a hike in the woods. You've got to work 20 hours a day, every day, no exceptions. Can't do it? Then this isn't your game. Go find a job instead.
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No way, they tell you.

You can't take an afternoon off and go for a hike in the woods. You've got to work 20 hours a day, every day, no exceptions. Can't do it? Then this isn't your game. Go find a job instead.

Turns out, they're wrong. Think of it: geeked on caffeine, glued to your screen, head full of details. Are you at your best in this state? I doubt it.

You're better off going to sleep. Truth is, if you insist on getting enough sleep, you're in good company.

Best part? If you play it right, you can get just as much done. And better.

"Sleep is the secret weapon of successful people." - Neil Patel, cofounder of Crazy Egg

Take Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and the human spaceflight company Blue Origin, and #15 on the Forbes list of wealthiest Americans. You'd think someone like him works 24/7, right? No. Bezos enjoys a full 8 hours of sleep.

You might say: easy to do when you're sitting on a multibillion dollar empire. Hard to do when you're not an emperor. Wrong again.

Back in 1995, Amazon barely registered as a mere mosquito in the book-selling universe. A microbe. They amounted to four floors of an old building in Seattle. Step in there, find Bezos' office, and what do you find tucked away in a corner? A sleeping bag. He'd use it on long, difficult days. Even then, he knew the value of sleep.

The problem here is not hard work. That's necessary. The problem is crazy hard work, all the time. Do that and you become a zombie -- a being only able to think about one thing: your work. And you know the thing about zombies? They're mindless.

Creative zombies don't exist

In 1965, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan grew tired of music. He constantly wrote new songs, carried a typewriter everywhere he went, and learned how to turn anything into a table. Over-immersed in his work, he started to write and sing me-too stuff he didn't believe in.

The breaking point came when he got a terrible case of food poisoning, leaving him stuck in bed for a week. Gave him time to think. Later, he told his manager he decided to quit the music world. Moved to a cabin in the woods and thought he'd write a novel. Didn't even bring his guitar.

Guess what happened, days later? He felt a strange urge to write. Wrote for hours, unable to stop. Ended up with 20 pages of material.

Here's the thing. Right then and there he punched out some of his very best music; when he walked away from his work and gave his mind time to ruminate.

Listen -- you need a ton of creativity as an entrepreneur. Without new ideas on how to serve your customers, you'll become a me-too. Copying other people's ideas. You need to come up with new stuff. But stay in your bubble too long and you can say bye-bye to creativity.

Okay, so how can you be creative when you never have enough time? Wrong question.

Ask yourself: how many hours do you waste working on precisely the least important thing? Staring at your emails, no idea what to write? Going into conversations with VIPs, head full of mist, barely able to think?

All signs of exhaustion. I've been there. For the most part, entrepreneurs accept this as normal -- but you and I shouldn't. And listen -- everyone has too much on their list.

But there's a solution.

Your 1-word solution to lack of time: focus

So do this: figure out the most essential things you need to do to keep your business moving forward. Boil it down to just a few key tasks. Then ruthlessly execute on just those. And watch that number -- if you add too much, you dilute your focus. You don't strengthen it.

Add more stuff to your list and you make it easy to ignore a deeper problem. If your priorities aren't crystal clear in your mind to begin with, your real problem is not time management.

Jeff Atwood, founder of the big-time programming Q&A site StackOverflow, challenges you:

"Here's my challenge. If you can't wake up every day and, using your 100% original equipment God-given organic brain, come up with the three most important things you need to do that day-then you should seriously work on fixing that. I don't mean install another app, or read more productivity blogs and books. You have to figure out what's important to you and what motivates you; ask yourself why that stuff isn't gnawing at you enough to make you get it done. Fix that."

Bottom line? Know your key tasks, execute relentlessly, then go rest -- satisfied that you've already done the most important stuff for the day. Anything you do on top is a bonus. And your work will be better.

Your determination is not measured by the raw hours you work. Go take a break.

Hi, I'm Harry -- a fellow entrepreneur. Keen to help you discover your ideal customers. Let's connect.

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