“Don’t Stop When You are Tired, Stop When you are Done”

I disagree with the above “Don’t stop when you are tired, stop when you are done” quote, which I saw the other day.

I get it. I’ve been there. Knocking out designs and mockups into the wee hours of the morning and literally falling asleep at the computer.

…But I still disagree with the quote.

The truth is work doesn’t have to reach the point of exhaustion to move toward your goals.

95% of the time this is completely avoidable at any reasonable workplace.

Not everything is under your control, but intentionally focusing on what you can control puts you in a place where burning the midnight oil can be the rare exception, not the rule.

There’s a better way.

Here are 6 alternatives:

  1. Prioritize the work so you are tackling the critical work as the first part of the work day. Execute the non-critical later in the day.
  2. Ask better stakeholder questions with design projects so you can minimize surprises that would otherwise derail the project.
  3. Avoid praising all-nighters and workaholism as honorable sacrifices. If you view those things as commendable you’ll keep doing them.
  4. Realize that perfectionism is bogus.
  5. Stop jacking around and avoid distractions during work time. Put your phone in a desk drawer or in another room while you’re working. Watch your productivity skyrocket.
  6. Try a morning schedule. Getting up early allows me to get my work done and be there for my family in the evening. Even though I was never a “morning person,” I made the switch and I’ll never go back. Now I am a morning person.
  7. Use Parkinson’s law to your advantage to crush your design project deadlines.

I’ll close with this quote by Jason Fried from the excellent book Rework:

“Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is home because she figured out a faster way”.

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