Startup Therapy Podcast

Episode #23


Ryan Rutan: Yeah, As a founder, when was the last time you asked yourself how much should I actually be working? Probably never because the answer is obvious. 24-7 right on today's startup therapy podcast, we're going to dig into the startup culture notion that more hours equal more growth. But while there's definitely truth to that assumption, we'll explore how to think quality and not quantity when it comes to your weekly punch card. This is Ryan Rutan from startups dot com. Back for another episode of startup therapy podcast, joined as always by Wil Schroder, my partner and Ceo will, let's talk about how much we should be working. I know I know how much we are working very much we are working. Like let's talk about how much we should be working because I think there's a difference there.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, I mean like look, the mantra among startups is, you know, work ourselves into the ground, right? And whether you're listening to Jack Ma or Gary V or all these or Elon musk, you know, all these super successful people saying the right thing to do is work every waking hour. I mean, Jack Ma was calling for that little literally calling for a longer workweek if you will and and it's this source of nobility, right? You know, if you're willing to work every waking hour, you're more committed, you're more ambitious, you know, it's a sign of progress, right? But I gotta tell you as as one of the reformers of the work, every waking hour movement. You know, I it's bullshit. I I don't I don't know how else to to encapsulate it in A. T. L. D. R. Moment but it's a bunch of shit. Nobody can work that many hours productively. I don't care who you are. It's just not only can it not be done. It's a terrible terrible approach to take. And I think today let's spend some time to explain why in a in a in an industry where working every waking hour seems to be what's considered the norm. You know what I mean?

Ryan Rutan: Yeah. Yeah for sure. Well I think like go go back in time and you know they go back in time and figure out where did this stuff come from? Right? These these baselines came out of the the industrial movement right? And so when you have this strong correlation between hours standing on an assembly line And the output right? Like if you can turn 280 screws per hour every additional hour you work assuming you can keep turning that screw means more output. Yeah and but the reality is that in the role of a founder right? We're not we're a few screws loose but we're not tightening them right? We're not standing it turning them on a on an assembly line. And so I think that you know there's this huge huge miscalculation in terms of our ability to do the things that we need to be able to do over that extended period of time

Wil Schroter: right? And I want to be really clear about Where I'm coming from on this one. So I was at the far end of the spectrum for nearly 20 years, right? So this isn't me saying, Hey, I think people should work less, you know, I don't want to work a lot. So other people should, you know, work a lot either.

Ryan Rutan: I've never worked more than 12 hours a week in my life. And

Wil Schroter: yeah, this is for this thing from it. So Quick Back Story when I started my first company at 19, I worked every waking hour and people exaggerate when they say that or sometimes they get like a fuzzy memory of what actually happened. You know, some revisionist history. This ain't that I worked seven days a week, 365 days a year. I took no holidays I took no weekends. I didn't even celebrate Christmas, I didn't see my family for three years. I mean I didn't come home for holidays. I worked through every possible outcome if I was sick if I wasn't at the time of your life, right? In all fairness, and this is gonna sound antithetical. It was, I was so excited about what I was doing and I was starting one of the first internet companies back then and you couldn't pull me away. I mean I was that excited. So to be clear, it wasn't like I just had this incredible work ethic, you know, and I was just willing to work so hard. I had a good work ethic. I was just really excited about what I was doing. However even as the company started to do better and as we started to grow, etcetera, I didn't change my hours that much. Right? And the two things I always remember number one, I've never gone to work or come home in daylight and think about what that means. It didn't even occur to me that you could show up for work and have it still be daylight or leave and have it still be daylight. Alright. So I just, I was just always first car in last car to leave and on average, I was probably leaving at 11:00 or midnight For like 20 years right now. So, so I just, I just want to put that out there. So the folks that are working their assess off or maybe, you know, maintaining the same hours or like, hey, this guy doesn't know what it means to put in hours. Fuck that, right? Yeah, I absolutely know what it means to put in those hours. I'm here to say holy sh it, That was a waste of time, right? Yeah. And go countered my entire investment right? And right, I'm sure you're no stranger to put in the crazy hours yourself, right? And you look back at it and say that was a lot of my life, right?

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, yeah. It was a lot of my life and, and in hindsight when you're really honest with yourself and you think about how I was spending the hours and the alternatives that did exist for getting that same amount of work done um either by somebody else or by deferring it, like it didn't all have to happen at the same time, it certainly didn't all need to be me um but like you said and it was the same for me right now, we're both starting companies very young um so hey, we just had more energy, right? I didn't need to sleep as much as I didn't have a fan which long gone man, like I don't know that I can sleep enough now, it's the opposite like I'm not sure there are enough hours in the day to get enough sleep and and so you know it was the same kind of thing and I was, I was going to school at the same time so I was literally like jumping from running company to trying not to completely screw up my my graduation timeline, all this other stuff, it was just, it was constant, interestingly enough The focus that came with that was pretty powerful and I had some of my best quarters at school and best performance within the company at the time were like I literally couldn't think about anything else so there is there, is a there is a focus component to this but the amount of energy that I was spending and the return on the hours as you go from like 40 To 60 and as you approach that 80 hour mark the return on those hours was pathetic. Like if I, if I had hired the second half of me I would have fired myself immediately because that 40 plus, I think the productivity was just ship right, it was stuff that probably didn't really need to be done or could have been done at a different time and like the number of hours it would take me to complete a task once I was, you know, it's like three o'clock in the morning, you're still bleary eyed trying to like load up some simple form on a website and it's just not working because you just don't have the mental capacity at that point to think yeah, it just, it wasn't worth it absolutely wasn't worth

Wil Schroter: it. I think there's a lot of factors at play first off, you know when we were starting our businesses in the nineties which was even you know pretty far along in the development of how businesses got started, we're just starting to get access to things like the internet and relics saying this where you could look up the things you need to know right? Whereas back then, as soon as you start to have to start things with, back then you already know you're old. But back then if you wanted to start an LLC, you had to go find an attorney, you had to go like they had to go through the process now.

Ryan Rutan: I can get it done by the end of the

Wil Schroter: right. And so all of the things you needed to do took so much more time than they do now. Right? So, but this is what started a really great at me later in my career, I said, look man, I get it when I'm in say my my uh 1920 25 where I'm at a point where I know nothing. So everything I have to do requires 10 X the effort, right? I don't know what the hell a Proforma income statement is. So I've got to go learn that, right? And that's just a ton of cycles. But here's the thing later in my career where I started to already know those things, but I'm still spending these extraordinary hours. I started to ask myself, I'm like, why am I spending just as many hours as I was spending before when I already know the answers to stuff that I thought was taking me all this extra time and it manifested in a whole bunch of areas. But what it really came down to was I built a habit of work takes takes lots of hours. And so I just grew to the size of my fish bowl, so to speak.

Ryan Rutan: And you assume that never changes,

Wil Schroter: right? And it took me a while. It took me a long, well, way too long. And this is why I'm hoping folks listening to this start to listen really closely to this, it took me a long time to understand the difference between lots of hours in good hours because they ain't the same,

Ryan Rutan: yep. You know, the analogy I would use here is that there's that point where just a gargantuan amount of effort is needed, right? You've got to apply yourself because you're learning on the job to your point and that can have a lot to do with just your overall experience in life and work. You can also have a lot to do with the business you're building. If it's something that just has never existed before, there's going to be a learning curve and figuring out how to make that thing real. But the, the analog I would use here is probably also a little date. I don't know if anybody had to do this in the last 20 years. You remember when you had a manual car and it wouldn't start what you do, you get a couple of friends to run along behind push and then you throw it into

Wil Schroter: gear, right?

Ryan Rutan: That's exactly it, man. But so what we, what we learned later was that what we've been doing is pushing our car until the point where somebody could pop the clutch and get the engine to fire up and then we continued pushing the damn thing, right? There's no reason to continue pushing once the engine's going and I think that was what we were doing. That's the analog for me is that despite the fact that things were moving in a way that didn't require that level of input anymore. We were still pushing the car and just putting a lot more effort than we needed to.

Wil Schroter: So let's, let's take this from two different angles. One is folks that are just getting started in their career and they're saying, hey, you know, I heard startup, I have to work 100 hours a week, right? That must be true, right? And let's pick that one apart on the other end. Let's talk about folks that have been in their career for a long time, bunch of geezers like us who have been doing it forever and just assume that's the mantra. I'd like to, to dismantle both of those of those structures, right? Because we've done it firsthand and it's, it's mind bending. You know what I did when I was in college, my mid 30s to to late 30s. Again, I got to this point where I was asking myself, why, why am I spending the same amount of hours as I did say, 10 years ago to do essentially the same types of tasks when I already know how to do these tasks. I don't have that extra overhead of not knowing. So having come from the agency world where we tracked time all the time, which I don't miss whatsoever. I whipped up an old time sheet And I actually started tracking my time and I did this for about two weeks and I tracked it in 15 minute increments and I basically just said, where is my time going? I had this theory that where my time was going as far as what was being productive, what was being useful and how I thought my time was working, we're going to be a lot different and holy ship, were they a lot different? Here's what I learned, right. And I encourage anyone to do is I don't care if you do it for a day or a week, find out where your time actually goes. It'll wind up looking something like this first thing. Uh, you'll find that the amount of productive things you get done, like the move the meter type things two hours. I mean Ryan, what's your gut tell you on a given day, your absolute move the meter energy and output looks like

Ryan Rutan: I got 2-3 hours of like what I know are like crystal pure production time. That's it.

Wil Schroter: And, but, but isn't it interesting to think that our entire careers and everything we've done have essentially hinged on those two hours. Yeah, yeah. And yeah.

Ryan Rutan: And yet we've been putting in the other 10

Wil Schroter: today. Exactly. Right. And so then I started to say, well what the funk happens with the rest of my time. I mean seriously, like, like, um, if only two hours were the time that I wrote something really useful or or I did some product development or all the different various things that I do, where did the rest of that time go and said differently, Why am I not spending it differently? Here's what I learned. If you give someone eight hours to do something, they'll take eight hours to do it. Regardless of whether it takes one hour or eight hours. Right? I think there is something within us that says if I have 16 hours that I'm willing to put in today, Then what I had to do takes 16 hours now, A lot of people are going to push back on that like no, no, no. Yeah, maybe it did for you idiot. But for me it absolutely takes 16 hours. So, so you know, being people who like to test things, we we tested it, right? And what we found was and Ryan, you remember this crystal clear? The first time we had to force ourselves to be time boxed was when our kids were born. Yeah, that's

Ryan Rutan: where it really, really starts to matter. Then that trade off in time has a material impact.

Wil Schroter: Right up until that point in and I was 37, how old were you when you had your first kid?

Ryan Rutan: Oh my goodness, How old?

Wil Schroter: 33. Yeah. Up until that 0.6 o'clock just meant this is what I'm going to eat. My first dinner, I'm gonna be my second one around 99 30 but that's, that's the only significant six o'clock had to me right now.

Ryan Rutan: Six o'clock, six o'clock

Wil Schroter: dinner time. Yeah, that's a great way to put it, right, But but 6:00, it was just a milestone of, oh, that's when everybody else leaves the office, right? And I didn't think twice about it. The reason I'm bringing this up Is because the moment that we had kids, 6:00 was what time they ate dinner right? Which means that's what time we were going to go home and eat dinner, which means we couldn't mess around anymore, right? We didn't have that luxury anymore where we could say, hey, you know, get home whenever I just, I've got, I've got four more hours, I'll just, you know, burn those off working all of a sudden the bell rang and we had to be there. So all of a sudden I get up in the morning and I'm thinking, I don't, I don't have any option to do anything past six o'clock. So whatever needs to get done is getting done by six o'clock lo and behold, Everything gets done by 6:00,

Ryan Rutan: which is amazing what a little urgency

Wil Schroter: does, isn't it? Dude? I'm thinking to myself the entire time. This is like the first year where my daughter is born and again, I'm coming home during daylight by the way for the first time in my life, right? Seeing what traffic looks like. I don't know what I learned

Ryan Rutan: about sunscreen.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. Right. Right. And so, but I'm driving home and you know, first week or two, it's crazy because I'm thinking all these things I didn't get done. But lo and behold within the year, nothing went undone. I basically shaved six hours from six pm to midnight out of my workday every day. And it, it had no impact whatsoever. Right. Well, scary, isn't it? Well, that's what I'm saying. There's, there's two ways you can look at that. One way you can look at that and say, hey, you know what a victory. The other way you can look at it like Boy, that would have been useful information 20 years ago. Yeah,

Ryan Rutan: We should have had kids at 19. Is that what you're

Wil Schroter: advocating? Yeah, some seminal event. Right? Go back marty McFly style and tell ourselves right. But, but, but I think it evolved a bit and then all of a sudden, Uh, you know, we started to look at our lives and again, and I think this was, this was brought upon us with our families, which was a blessing in more ways than one weekends, right? Saturday used to be pretty much like, like a 6-7 hour work day for me and I enjoyed,

Ryan Rutan: it was pretend we were taking off. Yeah, I, I actually always really relished my, my weekend work day and it would, it shifted depending on, on the business there. You know, there was one point in history where sunday was my day, I would get up early on Sunday morning, super like 5:30 and I would spend three or four hours planning out the following week. It was fun, right? Yeah. And I loved it because it was, it was no one else was working, no one else was working, right? Nobody on, on my staff was working, nobody else would bother me, hardly anybody else was awake. Right? And so it was just that me time and as a part time introvert, um, full time entrepreneur, I needed some of that time for me. And so I did, I relish that and little did I know I could have just traded that time out for some other time in the week, but

Wil Schroter: yeah, okay, so this is where it builds. So kids come along and kids don't get to see as much during the week, they want to see you on the weekend, you need that time, once again, your accounted for, you know, this, this little one year old person is about to explain to you how life really works, right? And so, uh, so all of a sudden saturday, sunday, I'm not working for the first time in my life. Guess what? I guess it doesn't get done nothing whatsoever. I don't miss a goddamn thing. Right? And so, so monday rolls around And now I've worked from 9-6. Well that's not fair a little bit earlier than nine, but honestly doesn't matter. And then not at all on the weekends for the first time. And guess what? Every urgent thing that needed to get done just got done in a shorter period of time. Right Magic. Right. Because for the first time we were time boxed right in a very literal way we, yeah, we didn't have more hours. Right? And all of a sudden things got compressed when I did that little time sheet exercises and man, it sticks in my head all the time, all the time that you spend, you being listener, everybody, you know, their founders, etcetera, fucking around on social media, right? Looking up cat memes doing all this stuff that we all, whether we realize it or not wind up doing throughout the day. If those things get taken out and they get replaced with the actual productivity, you usually don't need that many hours and Ryan you and I talked about this a little bit, the number of hours that, that our staff is putting in right now. And I mean this is a compliment Is probably, I'm guessing 32, hours per week. It varies some folks are working more. I'm saying on average, especially around required hours as far as you know possible when folks are required 32, hours a week. I, I did the math a couple different ways on a roughly 200 person company and an eight figure business. And we move fast, right? It's not like we're running nationwide insurance and we're just running the business that was started 100 years ago, You know, um, we build so much stuff so fast And everyone assumes our teams are 10 times bigger than they are. Everyone assumes that we're putting in more hours and we don't but dude, we're militant about our efficiency.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah. And you have to be right. And I think that's, that's where it comes from, interestingly enough, the, the other stuff that creeps into the work day, I would argue happens when people are working too much or when they're trying to make it look like they're working too much, right? Because again, mentally the cycles that we're asking people to put in, right, they're not turning screws right there making new things, whether they're designing a new layout or, or building a new component for the site or coming up with a new product for one of our consulting offerings. This is deep cerebral stuff, right? It's, and, and so, you know, they'll resort to facebook at some point, not because they're lazy Because they don't want to work, but because they don't have the mental energy at that point to put in more of those cycles. So they need that release, they need that time. And if they're made to look like they're working 12 hours a day, that stuff's going to creep in right out of necessity. Uh not not out of any any sloth or laziness, right? And so I think it's really important when you start seeing that kind of stuff creep in and it becomes apparent that it's happening to do things like the exercise you suggested and work journaling is something that I have, everybody on my team do periodically, not on a regular basis because I liked it to be a bit of a surprise. Um And it almost always comes after some discussion around like I'm feeling I'm feeling burnt out. How can I get some more hours back in the day? Okay, well let's let's look at really how you're spending your days and I always have them tell me how they're spending their days first, right? And I do the same thing. I'll write out how I think I'm spending my days to spend. I want you to spend, I want you to spend the next week. I know it's going to be a little bit less productivity. I want you to document everything you do at the time that you do it for the next week. And two things happen every time. One where they thought they were spending their time is not even close to where the hours were actually being spent in most cases. And two we find a lot of fluff and things where they were spending their time on something that was of lower value, but they're spending an inordinate amount of time on it. It's like, okay, well if you need more time back in your week, let's do less of this and more of this. And so taking time to really do that analysis on how the time is spent, will, will point out really how you're spending it and whether you're spending it as efficiently and on the things that matter the most and the reality is that even when we're pretty good at this and I would argue you and I are both pretty good about how we use our time. You're always going to find inefficiencies every time you revisit this, there's always going to be something else you can do to tighten that up a bit.

Wil Schroter: I've got basically three modes that I work in as far as efficiency of time, right? That the top that, that to our peak and, and Ryan, let's, let's face it man, two hours is a good day. That presumes we slept were healthy, whatever, you know, where

Ryan Rutan: I can remember.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, what I can do for like peak creative, right? You know, that's the top tier for me and I'm always trying to optimize my day for that. But my, my best two hours are typically between seven AM and nine AM right as you would expect, you know, under uninterrupted etcetera. Kind of fresh mind, what have you before the day gets ahold of me, my next tier after that our communications. That's what I'm just talking to folks. That could be a partner call. It could be business development, it could be a media interview time with my staff, whatever, right? Just just where I need to be present. I need to be focused in the conversation. My mind needs to be spinning about what's going on, but I, I can't mess around, but it's not the same as that. Like burning my brain at a top cerebral level for that top tier.

Ryan Rutan: And it's funny cause that's exactly the kind of stuff I was thinking about, right, when I was talking about those 2-3 peak hours, that's me building, creating, generating something new, non peak is exactly stuff like this, right? It's meetings, it's reviewing others, people, other people's works responding to questions and emails and that sort of stuff.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. And in the third tier for me is it's just mindless work, right? Like I'm pressing an invoice or, you know, I'm just responding to an email that like he's going to require no brain power whatsoever, right? No, I don't

Ryan Rutan: want to hire you. But

Wil Schroter: yeah, no, you know, just a million things, just stupid clerical things that need to be done, you know, et cetera. But what's worked really well for me and what's allowed me and I'm hoping others to start to, to shave as many bullshit hours out of my day as possible is too optimize my days around those three tiers and it kind of, for me it's sequential, the first couple hours in the morning are always my, my peak productivity times said differently. Some of my biggest productive things are either ideation or on product or, you know, writing articles and a lot of stuff we cover in our podcasts. I've never written one after lunch ever. I've just

Ryan Rutan: chicken parm just cuts off those creative

Wil Schroter: Yeah, I mean, I mean, it's horrible, it's horrible. I probably eat at lunch, but look, man, that's no longer my productivity time, right? So I don't pretend it is. I think part of the part of the trap we get ourselves into is thinking that we've got this straight line productivity, right, that as long as we're awake and we call ourselves working, that our productivity is the same. I'm like, I've abandoned that, that altogether. I'm saying anything that's going to be super highly intellectual that needs to get done by me has to get done by 10:00 because there's almost no chance it's getting done after that. After that any of my meetings, my slack chats, my whatever I need to do, I need to basically do the height of those by about two or 3:00 PMclock as of three o'clock. From that till six o'clock, it's all clerical, it's all stuff that requires a little brainpower as possible. I don't even attempt to do to do the high, you know cerebral stuff at that, those hours and I don't mess around with with clerical stuff at nine AM

Ryan Rutan: as you shouldn't.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, so, but but here's the difference in the past, I didn't have that kind of organization, right? I just did whatever I needed to do at whatever point in the day. I thought I needed to do it and I thought the results were going to be the same. Here's what happened. I tried to write an article, I try to do something creative at three o'clock, my brain was working at 50%. It would either be shitty or it would take a really long time or I would get distracted and beyond the equivalent of facebook or something, right? Because I was mismanaging my time, I was mismanaging my energy. Yes,

Ryan Rutan: and I think that's the key right there, and I think, I think that's one that takes a little bit longer to figure out it did for me, right? I kind of figured out like, I think we all know like what are high value tasks are, or we should know what those are, right? So, I think that trying to structure those two the most important part today, I think it's figuring out what those key times a day are. Uh that really matter. I think those vary a little bit for people, you know, I know I know some folks like they're really good, they're really energetic after, like they'll do like lunch and then lunch workout and then they've got some like really peak hours in the afternoon, that is not me. And, and admittedly you've said not you, but I think it varies, I think that you need to be able to map those energy levels to those high value tasks. Right?

Wil Schroter: Well, there's another side of it. It's because if you don't and you start burning all of these extra hours, right? All these startup hours that you're so proud of putting in, you don't get any chance to recover. Right? The one thing that shocked the hell out of me. I didn't see it coming. It's so obvious when I explained it, I didn't see it coming. What I turned life off at six o'clock business life and just focused on family life at six o'clock. When I stopped working on weekends, I actually recharged for the first time in my life I had run an empty for so long that it didn't occur to me what recharging could even be, I just assumed that

Ryan Rutan: That has a real, that has a real impact because at some point you have no peak hours, you're working 50 hours a week with zero of of the high time, right? And, and that has a real, real fast, diminishing return.

Wil Schroter: It does. And so to your point, you're never getting the peak hours back, right? If I say that that my peak hours are between seven and nine a.m. That's cool. But if I'm fried at 7 to 9 a.m. Because I've been burning myself out night after night, then what's the point right now? It's worth maybe throwing a few caveats out there. Sometimes the only answer is a ton of ours, right? I mean sometimes that's the only answer, right?

Ryan Rutan: If there's an endless sea of clerical work that has to get done, sometimes you just have to put in the hours and get that ship out of the way, it

Wil Schroter: just has to stop something's time sensitive, right? We just found the competitors about to release a feature and the only way we're going to be able to get it out before them in a meaningful way is to work more hours. Wait, who? Alright, let's just stop what we're doing and attack that. No, but seriously like there is a time for red alert mode, right? And so not taking that off the table. The problem is I think is we think it's always red alert mode and we let our efficiency run by the wayside and I think God I wish I knew it sooner. Right? Yeah, for sure. Who knows how much healthier I'd be. You know, given that time

Ryan Rutan: um something else I came across well in terms of the prioritization of work and getting these things like the peak energy peak hours and this worked out well for for for me and for you are there in the morning, which I think is is really helpful for a number of reasons. One of things I started doing was making sure that things I was doing towards the end of the day, we're less critical tasks for two reasons, one, I wasn't at the right level of energy to get them done. Well, number two, it made it easier to walk away from them so that I could actually stop when I did that, I forgot that I'm working on something critical and I'm saying I'm gonna do that from you know four until six and I'm only halfway through it, guess what? I'm working till late because I'm going to finish it, I'm not going to stop in the middle of something critical just because I know I should or need to write the other thing that I found that was hugely impactful, was then after I did walk away from it, he didn't haunt me, because that was the other thing that happened when I tried to force myself, so like when, when, you know when, when my first was born, when Hannah was born, I did start cutting myself off, I was like, okay, I gotta stop now because I need to go, I need to go, you know, rock the baby, sing the baby, get the baby to sleep, do whatever bather, all these things happened and my mind was still racing on this critical task that hadn't completed and so I think that in order to accomplish this and feel good about it, it's important to kind of ramp your day down and that's what I found now. So like the stuff that I do towards the end of the day tends to be a little more analytical. I'm kind of like it's a little more exploratory. It's things that if paused, there's no, there's no hard limit to coming back to them. There's no, there's no barrier to re entering that at some other point and there's nobody sitting and waiting for it

Wil Schroter: agreed. And, and you know, what's interesting about it is when we look at how we set those hours, Ryan, right? You know how we kind of look at our own hours and our own productivity. I think one of the things that we hadn't considered is once we changed our approach to it, think of how that affected the rest of our staff, right? The rest of our team, you know, this reminds me of when, when Elon musk was in the, the press recently and he was talking about how he's working 80 to 100 hours and he wants the team to push the same and the Tesla team is pushing for 100 hours now. Mind you, they're going out of business. So that's the extra hours is the answer, right? Um, but but he's basically saying this is the tone that I want to set for the whole organization, I think what happened for us because you know, I know we came into it with the guns blazing work 100 hours crush it kind of mentality is that once we allowed ourselves to kind of dial back, it allowed everyone else to refocus as well and lo and behold this is this is the kicker. We're more productive than we've ever been.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, because the focus shift productive to productivity output because it sets such an interesting message for the team, if they see, hey these guys do check out at six o'clock at night, but they also got everything they said they were going to do done that week, therefore I should do the same, right. If all they see is ah what we value here is everybody stays as late as they can. We try to make it look like we're doing something until the, you know, the the founding team leaves and then we go with them to prove that, you know, we were here with you the entire time, whether I was doing jack ship or otherwise, it's that's the wrong message, right, the right messages, let's figure out what needs to get accomplished this week, let's find the right time to do that work, let's get it done. And if there's still some hours left in the day, we'll find some other stuff to do, right? You you've made a great point in the past around just like at least having that one thing you're going to knock off, right and being militant about getting that thing done and that's that peak peak piece, right? And I think that not only does that help you get more done in a week, but accomplishing something gives me more energy, right? So, if I want to talk about, how do I increase my peak productivity hours, it's by making sure I'm spending them on stuff that actually matters, and getting that one really good thing done. I'm gonna have more energy to go and do the next thing, because I'm pumped up about what I just got done, right? If I'm spending hours and hours mindlessly droning through stuff, I don't want to be working on and I don't necessarily need to be, it's gonna have the opposite effect

Wil Schroter: agreed. And then now, so let's imagine for a second that we've got two ends of the spectrum, we've got one end of the spectrum where entrepreneurs saying, well, can I do the tim Ferriss four hour work week, what you guys are saying is you need so a few hours and you know, maybe that's what it takes. Maybe tim hasn't figured out. The irony being

Ryan Rutan: that there's a reason there's quotes around the four hour workweek, it's because it's not real, it's it's a four hour work week, times 10.5,

Wil Schroter: right, Right? So, so imagine the other end of the spectrum, of course is the Jack ma 100 plus hour work week until you die, right? Yes, Which will happen sooner? Yeah, also true, right? And so the folks listening to podcasts are thinking, well, you know, which is it? Am I supposed to be hard charging work all the hours? That's kind of probably what I'm doing now? Or am I supposed to work this like 10 hours a week and feel amazing about it? Okay. I'm saying it's, it's neither of those what I'm suggesting in writing, what I think we're building toward here is you need to figure out what are the least amount of productive hours you can work right? I mean, what I mean by that is, how many productive hours do you have? That should be what you're optimizing toward, right? The other hours that you need, which are the non productive hours you put it as you need to, but only when you need to, the focus shouldn't be, how many hours I put in, the focus should be, how few hours can I put it in most productively. So where this all gets interesting to me is a lot of people will look at their staff and they're all there at eight o'clock, nine o'clock whenever, right. And, and if you're like me, you're proud of seeing that you're proud of seeing the commitment. You know, uh Jen's here till till 9:00. I'm so proud of her commitment. Right? That's the wrong question. The question you should be asking Janice why the funk? Are you still here at nine o'clock? Like what did you do? So inefficiently today that you still have to be here. Right. Those extra hours should be considered a concern. Not, not a high five. Right.

Ryan Rutan: Exactly.

Wil Schroter: And, and, and if if her responsible, I just had so much to do, I'm so committed. I'm so overloaded and I'm like, are you, you know, I mean, let's, let's look at how you motor through work and what decisions you're making Because if it takes you 16 hours a day to do your job, are you sure you're doing it right?

Ryan Rutan: That's where that work journaling comes in man. Because depending on who you're talking to, they may not know right. If it's a first time founder, they may just have no idea, right. Or if it's, if it's an employee, um and they've, they've been thrust into a new role. They may just not know how to optimize stuff yet. And sometimes you're just too close to it. You gotta lean back, right? And if you don't take the time to lean back Because you're already spending 16 hours a day working, you're like, well, I don't have time to Lean back. Yes, you do. And you need to

Wil Schroter: um What I think we've done a good job within the startups dot com organization is, is we've really measured output, not input. Right. Right. I don't care how many hours you're putting in? I care how much ship you're getting done. And so we measure week to week over raw output specifically, what did you get done? We're, we're very stringent about, Here's what we said, we'll do at the beginning of the week. Here's what got done by the end of the week. And if, if something comes off the rails, if something doesn't get done, of course the question is why, but we never think about it in terms of what you just didn't put in enough hours. Maybe that's true. You know, maybe sometimes that's the case. Usually it's not right. Usually it's uh, you didn't communicate well enough so you went down a rabbit hole in the task and sometimes it's you got distracted by something that shouldn't have been important and yet, you know, and yet it kept you from doing it

Ryan Rutan: was higher than you thought. Yeah,

Wil Schroter: exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean, you know, it's, it goes so many, so many different ways, but what we consistently found and this is, you know, we're fairly good sized organization now. We've been around for a while and you and I have done this in many other companies to compare it to all hours aren't the same At best. We've probably got a core nugget of 30 hours per week per person to manage to get peak output and everything else is some version of chaff that we should be really concerned about.

Ryan Rutan: Exactly, that's a wrap for this episode of the startup therapy podcast. This is Ryan Rutan on behalf of my partner Wil schroder and all the startups dot com family thanking you for joining us and we hope you'll continue to join us. Be sure to subscribe, rate and comment on itunes or wherever you love to listen to startup therapy. You can find all of our episodes at startups dot com slash podcast. If you're looking for more amazing resources to launch or grow your startup, be sure to head to startups dot com and check out startups unlimited. It's everything we have to offer from our online university to our amazing community of experts and founders and even all the tools we've built like biz plan, fungible and launch rock. It's everything a founder needs visit startups dot com slash begin that startups dot com slash b E G I N. You'll thank me later.

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