Work Sprints: Let’s do better work in less time, and love it.

I’m running a high-energy, high awesomeness productivity sprint at Brooklyn Roasting Company on Thursday, October 3. Grab a spot here!

A funny thing happens when we start working for ourselves that I think too few of us recognize: we implicitly hire ourselves as our own bosses. We’re suddenly the CEO, the middle manager, and the worker bee all wrapped up in one little brain.

What happens next is even more curious: our inner bosses often find themselves imitating the very behaviors that we tend to despise in traditional industrial-era bosses.

We tend to, for instance, value face time as a measure of performance. If we sit in front of our keyboards for 10+ hours a day, we figure, we must be satisfying our inner bosses, right?

We know intuitively that it’s wrong, yet we struggle against it constantly. And we egg each other on, too. We can get into a competitive loop of who can lament about working more hours than whom. It’s honorable to bust your ass day and night. And that can be an awful way to live. (Many folks in the startup world struggle with this mightily.)

But we’re in charge. That means it’s up to us to define the rules. If we are intentional about the boss we’ve created for ourselves in our heads, then we can create a working relationship with ourselves that is nourishing and healthy. We can break the culture of treating work like a cross to bear.

But doing it alone is hard. It’s also no fun. So I propose we work on being better bosses for ourselves together.

There are a lot of ways to tackle this, but the most simple and obvious one to me centers around time management. (The guy who kicked off the modern coworking movement was hip to this, by the way.) If, by virtue of gathering and setting some intentions for ourselves and each other, we can get a better handle on our workdays, we can build on that.

To that end, I’m going to organize an Intentional Coworking gathering where the attendees commit to shifting their focus away from the number of hours worked and toward the quality of hours worked. Tony Schwartz, of the Energy Projectframes this mindset perfectly:

“For my first three books, I sat at my desk for up 10 hours a day. Each of the books took me at least a year to write. For my two most recent books, I wrote in three uninterrupted 90-minute sessions — beginning first thing in the morning, when my energy was highest — and took a break after each one… Writing just four and half hours a day, I completed both books in less than six months and spent my afternoons on less demanding work.”

He continues:

“More and more of us find ourselves unable to juggle overwhelming demands and maintain a seemingly unsustainable pace. Paradoxically, the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less.”

Let’s commit to helping each other do better work in less time. Let’s celebrate our successes and enjoy the freedoms we’ve afforded ourselves. Most importantly, let’s do great things together.