Elon did a tweet thing last week (this week? It’s hard to tell, with the whirlwind autumn-winter border) about “nobody changing the world working forty hours a week.”

This provoked the usual flares — one side saying “hustle 💪 grind 😤 never 💪 sleep 😤” and the other saying “if you work more than forty hours a week you are a monster”. 1

I think this is a particularly poor discussion to have on Twitter. Here are things that I think to be all true and non-contradictory:

  1. The most successful people I read about profess to work very long hours. (I’m thinking startup-y folks, folks I read in history books, etc.)
  2. The most successful people I know in real life work forty hours a week.
  3. I work around 40-45 hours a week.
  4. I think I would be miserable in a job where it was expected of me to work, say, sixty hours a week.
  5. And yet I spend another ~15 hours a week doing work-ish stuff: freelancing, side projects, reading about technology, engaging in the zeitgeist.
  6. I credit that extra time to getting me to where I am today — which is not to say I’m particularly talented or accomplished, but it got me where I am.
  7. I can spend that extra time because I’m single, childless, affluent, and have spent every moment of my life near a computer and a working internet connection.
  8. I don’t think I would have any meaningful drop in net productivity if I worked thirty hours a week.
  9. I don’t think I would have any meaningful boost in net productivity if I worked fifty hours a week.
  10. Everyone’s work ethic and work style is different, and judging ‘productivity’ based on ‘time spent in the office’ is insane.

It’s just kind of a weird conversation to watch play out over and over again. I joke a lot about having a Puritan work ethic, and I mean it — for better or for worse, I consider my best days to be the ones with productive outputs — but it’s hard to project that any further than what makes me tick.

(Also, hustle mindset is terrible. Getting an extra two hours sleep will always improve my total sanity and productivity more than spending an extra two hours at the office.)

  1. Obviously nobody said these things exactly or with such uncharitable aims. But you get my point. 

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