How Long is Your Work Week?

January 9, 2007

This weekend I was talking with a friend who works for a consulting firm – he does city planning. He mentioned the partners regularly work 15+ hour days.

It got me thinking about work weeks and what is too much. Lee Iacocca wrote an excellent autobiography of his time at Chrysler and Ford. It’s a great read from a truly motivated individual. One of the big takeaways for me was that Lee – world famous CEO of Chrysler and turn-around artist – did not work on weekends…ever. To him, weekends were family time and totally off limits.

I believe that you need to be refreshed to be effective. When I first started out seven years ago as a solo consultant/freelancer/web designer – a true one man shop, jack of all trades – there were times when I worked too much. Gradually I learned how to achieve my work/life/day balance and stave off burn-out – it’s always lurking and if you are not careful it will snag you.

So how long is my work week these days? I usually get to my desk around 8:00 AM and leave around 7:00 PM. While I sometimes arrive earlier or later, I rarely work past 7:00 PM. I think it is important to have a clear and consistent end to your workday. So, I work about 11 hours per day (55 hours per week). Now, that does not include the .5-1 hour of reading I do (almost always business related) each night (3.5 hours per week). Nor does it include any errands I run after hours (office supplies, sending of documents, etc), nor the inevitable after hours phone call or two (2.5 hours a week there). Every Sunday night I spend about an hour planning my week and frequently (weekends and weeknights) I go for one to two hour walks where I just think about things (4 hours per week). I also spend about 3.5 hours a week on outside projects like mesh.

So, here is how that looks in a more palatable format:

Mike’s Work Week

55.0 hrs – driving the desk
2.5 hrs – running errands after hours
3.5 hrs – reading and professional development
1.0 hrs – Sunday night prepping my week
4.0 hrs – after hours time dedicated to thinking
3.5 hrs – outside projects
69.5 hrs – THE GRAND TOTAL

With this kind of schedule and this kind of discipline, I feel both productive and passionate. I could work more hours, but it would come at a cost.

How long is your work week?

about the author

Co-Founder & CEO, FreshBooks Mike is the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, the world’s #1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals. Built in 2003 after he accidentally saved over an invoice, Mike spent 3.5 years growing FreshBooks from his parents’ basement. Since then, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing, and collect billions of dollars. A lover of the outdoors, Mike has been bitten so many times it’s rumored he’s the first human to have developed immunity to mosquitoes.