Working late into the night, burning the midnight oil, is something I’ve heard many people do. Be it consultants, investment bankers, or even folks such as bloggers, many people like the idea of working late to get ahead. Actually, for some careers, it can simply be a part of how things go. You’re simply expected to work some super late nights.
To me, the flaw with that thinking is the notion that you can just give up something that’s supposedly less valuable (time), and spend it to get something that’s supposedly more valuable (money). That line of thinking implies that the one thing holding someone back from making such a tradeoff is effort. In other words, those who work late are actually working hard, and those who refuse to are actually lazy.
The reality, as I see it, is that such “hard work” is a waste of time. The smarter person is the one who will choose not to work inordinate hours, and will do his or her best during a shorter period of time.
The smarter person is employing the practice of doing less to make more money.
I’ve noticed this concept in my own life, during times when I worked late into the night on projects. In retrospect, I don’t know that it was necessarily worth it.
Here is what I observed. If I worked until a super late hour – as in 10pm (after starting the day at 8am) for example, I would absolutely get more done on that day than I would had I left at 5pm. After all, a 14 hour day provides more time to get things done than a 9 hour day.
However, by working late, it meant that I went to bed later than usual. Let’s say that I went to bed a couple of hours later than usual. If I got up at the usual time the next morning, that means I shortchanged myself by 2 hours of sleep.
Well, actions often have consequences. With less sleep, I might be okay for part of the next day, but then by the end of the day my productivity wanes. When you get tired, it’s just not likely that you’re going to be nearly as productive as when you’re energized and refreshed. So, your gains for the day before could be offset by less productivity the next day.
But for some of us, less sleep also means having less energy to get personal things done, less energy to exercise, and even less willpower to eat healthy food. If you go stop taking care of yourself, eventually the ability to make money will be compromised. I’ve written about how different parts of life are interrelated in a post on the role of money in life. What do you think?
I simply have to look at my own life and see that when I compare the long-term overall productivity I had when getting a solid 8 hours of sleep per night on a regular basis versus getting maybe 6.5 per night regularly, the former did more for my wealth-building efforts (not mention overall quality of life) than did sleeping less but trying to get more done.
So shut down your computer, go to sleep, and instead of counting sheep perhaps you can count dollar signs instead
My Questions for You
Do you think a good night’s sleep is essential for being productive and making wealth-building decisions?
Do you ever “burn the midnight oil” to get more done?