Why are we working 70-hour weeks?

February 7, 2018

By Brian Maynor


Most professional cultures perpetuate the myth that in order to be successful we have to work insanely long hours and we buy into it.

Working excessively long hours has become our sense of normal and expected if you want to succeed, but we aren’t designed for that level of stress, anxiety and pressure.  Chronic long hours of overwork have physical as well as psychological effects on our health and wellbeing as well as our productivity.

It doesn’t help that no matter how much we want to change this reality, we don’t seem to know how until now.

There is one question we could ask ourselves very morning that will bring clarity and focus to our day, magnify our productivity and stop the cycle of working excessively long hours without a purpose.  Here it is:

1.   “If I could only do one thing today that would accomplish the most, what would it be?”

This question helps us to see and understand the difference between being busy and being productive.  When we check off a lot of little tasks we can stay busy, but are really producing a lot, just like tackling one important task can be productive, but doesn’t shorten your to do list.

2.    Another way this question helps us is by requiring us to define our top priority task every day.

Because priorities change from day to day, asking this question first thing in the morning keeps us focused on what we need to be doing in the moment.  This means other tasks deemed less important may go ignored until the primary task is accomplished.  We have to know and accept that going in and set our expectations accordingly.

3.    Some follow-up questions to assess our day include:

a. Did I get done what I intended?

b. Did I invest enough time, attention and energy the right way?

These questions help us to evaluate our progress to see if we were distracted from our task during the day and how to better prepare for the next one.

Employers prey on insecure overachievers, people who are exceptionally skilled and ambitious because of their fear of inadequacy, and exploit that drive and ambition to create the culture of overwork.  One way to break the cycle is to consciously choose when to work long hours on the important tasks instead of blindly working long hours every day because we are made to think we should.

We can only make that conscious choice when we define our priorities, which is the real importance to asking this question.  In fact, it’s the most important part of the question, because when we know our priorities, both personally and professionally, we can choose how we spend our time and create a more consistently successful version of ourselves.


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I am always curious to hear from you and what you see in the workplace. Send your questions, comments and pet peeves to [email protected]. Also find each of these storyboards at http://brianmaynor.polyvore.com with links to purchase each item.


About Brian Maynor

Brian Maynor has built a reputation as one of the leading style coaches in the Southeast and is quickly expanding his eponymous company, BRIAN MAYNOR and his FIND, FLATTER & FLAUNT line of image consulting services. A professional with a fresh, upbeat and down-to-earth personality and boundless creative energy, he works frequently with with local celebrities; Fortune 500 companies and nonprofit organizations; modeling agencies; fashion designers; production companies; record labels; media and individuals. A regular contributor to various fashion blogs and online communities, Brian Maynor is one of the most trusted and recognized style experts in the region, utilizing his education and training as a broadcast journalist to serve as a style lecturer, emcee, and commentator for over a decade. He has appeared at fashion shows, expos, and charity fundraisers, as well as events with big brands like Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Chico’s and Macy’s. His approach is innovative, creative and fashion-forward, balancing fresh, modern styles with classic pieces to keep one’s look grounded. To learn more, visit http://www.brianmaynor.com.