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Edition 292 – 27 Days

I’m reading “Shorter” by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang at the moment. Essentially, the key message is about how businesses that are working less are revolutionising how they get things done, creating better lifestyles for their employees and owners and, in most cases, maintaining or increasing profits.

As I’m wont to do when reading a book such as this, I’ve reflected back to a time in my life which, in this case, is September and October 2012, where I worked a period of 27 days straight. No weekends. No afternoons off. No late morning arrivals. Straight through. Non stop. Like an Express Train.

At that time in my business, we had a few balls in the air. My business partner had departed on a well deserved long break, something which I’d done myself a few months previously. We were introducing a raft of new systems in the business that had been six months in development and launch date was 1st October. Client work was busy and there were a number of projects that were cropping up that required focus.

The first week was a normal week – client meetings; project work; a handover of tasks from my business partner prior to him heading off on leave; my own bits and pieces. The Saturday that followed was a chance to get ahead on internal and client matters leading into the following week. Saturday in the office, without anyone else around, is incredibly productive, isn’t it? Saturday spilled over into Sunday and before you knew it, the new business week started.

For 27 days straight, I kept up this relentless workload. The business days were long. In early and out late. The weekends were perpetual catch-up mode with, often, matters that popped up in the week being parked to the side so that, on the weekend, I’d have a few moments to consider them in depth, uninterrupted. By doing this, it created time to manage the spot fires of a busy business with 15 staff that arose on a daily basis.

Upon reflection, this was pure and utter madness. By the middle of week two, so 10 days in, the fatigue had already shattered me. Headaches were constant. Sleep was often broken. My temper shortened considerably. However, I kept going as the Things to Do List simply spilled over like a dam at 100% capacity.

When I missed watching the AFL Grand Final with my son, Callum (the last time the Sydney Swans won) I was incredibly disappointed with myself for not being there with him to enjoy his passion with him on that day. The following week, I missed Bathurst for only the fourth time since I was 9 years of age. My mood went from disappointed to annoyed.

In the end, one Sunday morning, I simply could not drag myself out of bed. I’d burnt myself out to the point where both physically and mentally, I was shattered. That Sunday would have been the 28th day.

All of this was a choice on my part. Lots of what had to be done was important, but not life threatening. I could have called out for help to those around me, however chose not to, for whatever reason I really don’t know. I was the owner of the business and in the process, I was destroying myself by choice.

I see and hear family business owners do this all the time. Let me tell you, it’s not a badge of honour. It’s a poor reflection on you as a business owner. It says a lot about how you’re training (or not training) your people. Somewhere in amongst all of this, your ability to trust others must also be an issue. And I say all of that because that is what it was with me at that time.

As we head into the final quarter of 2021, if any of this resonates with you, then maybe now is the time to stop it. The choice rests with you, before there are any long lasting health consequences.

This Week’s Tip

I once felt that every hour worked beyond 50 hours in a week contributed less than an hour of productive effort.
I’ve now re-set that bar to 40.