In a previous life, I “worked” 65-80 hours per week. I quote work because what I did ranged from conference calls, to reading and replying to 100s of emails per day, to managing people and the occasional bit of coding.
Now, with only a couple of exceptions, no one ever directed me to work that much, but I was constantly missing deadlines and since the company I was at was resolute in not hiring additional staff, the only other avenue was to work longer days and nights.
Initially I was driving 110 miles round trip per day. Some days I would stay in a local hotel, or at the company's management training center, but most days I'd drive home to Poughkeepsie, NY or Wappingers Falls, NY.
It was not unusual for me to arrive home at 11:00 pm, fire up the laptop and dial in to replicate my email in case any disasters occurred in the 45 minutes it took to drive home; sleep for four-five hours, and then get up to return to work by 7:00 or 8:00 a.m.
I was not a most happy, cheerful person.
My attitude towards this approach changed after one late afternoon drive home.
I'd actually worked until the early hours of the morning, and then slept in my office since I couldn't get a hotel room.
The company had showers on site and by then I'd learned to keep a spare change of clothes in my desk.
Anyway, I'd had at most two-three hours of sleep in a chair in my office, then worked until 3 or 4 in the afternoon.
I don't remember what was so critical about that day that I work that late, but I do remember what happened next.
On the drive home, in the stretch just after 684 meets I-84, I woke up as the car plowed through the gravel on the side of the highway.
Just in case you missed that, I woke up as the car plowed through the gravel.
Now, I have no idea how I'd managed to get that far (probably 20-30 miles from CHQ, another 20 miles to home) without crashing or hitting anything.
The rush of adrenalin was enough to keep me up for the remainder of the drive home, though I got off the interstate as quickly as possible.
After that little incident, I made sure to basically have a ready reservation at the local hotel or training center. Yes, I learned the wrong lesson, I continued to put in insane hours (and I can't even blame reading blogs, I was actually doing some sort of work activity).
Later, I briefly tried commuting from Poughkeepsie to New York and maintaining the same hours.
Since hotels in NY are not quite as cheap as they are in the greater North Castle metropolitan area, I had to return home.
I only did this for a couple of months before I moved down to the city (again, learning the wrong lesson).
All of this is an introduction to this great article:
Why Crunch Mode Doesn't Work: 6 Lessons:
There's a bottom-line reason most industries gave up crunch mode over 75 years ago: It's the single most expensive way there is to get the work done.
It's published by the International Game Developer's Association and is partially a response to a posting by a spouse of a games developer over the insane hours that they were expected as a matter of routine to put in.
It doesn't work.
It doesn't matter whether you call it crunch mode, or startup mode, or even crisis mode.
Once in awhile you can draw on your reserves and possible get things done (I know part of the reason I used to work late was that it was the only time I had to myself to actually focus on stuff, instead of answering inane requests for redirects, new web sites, or domain names).
But, when it's a regular practice you'll only do far more harm than good to yourself, your team, and the project you're working on.
e.p.c. posted this at 15:33 GMT on 24-May-2005 .