Why Entrepreneurs Should Stop Celebrating the 60-Hour Workweek While launching a company can take up a lot of time, it doesn't necessarily have to be your whole life. Instead, entrepreneurs should be working smarter not harder.

By Stephan Aarstol

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Every entrepreneur knows what it feels like to put in a 12-hour day and come home physically and mentally exhausted. Many brag about how many hours they put in and convince themselves that logging hours is the goal. But if you put in 60 hours a week, are you being productive or are you just "busy"?

It's time we stopped drinking the busy Kool-Aid and started being more strategic with our time and decisions.

Fixing the "Busyness' Problem
Using your time strategically and productively means maximizing your output per unit of input. Being busy doesn't work, because most people produce 80 percent of their results in 20 percent of their time.

Related: 10 Time Management Tips That Work

By documenting and analyzing your time, you can actually see what makes up your 20 percent and systematically eliminate the rest. By applying this 80-20 rule, you can double or triple your productivity and accomplish more in 40 hours than you previously accomplished in 60.

Eliminating your unproductive time isn't easy, but as an entrepreneur with limited resources, maximizing your time is essential for survival.

Obstacles to strategic thinking
While being more productive sounds nice, as entrepreneurs, there are all kinds of problems and opportunities that turn into "80 percent time" and get in the way of strategic thinking.

  • Too many opportunities. Having options seems great but too many options can be a problem. When success brings a lot of opportunities and you feel compelled to seize them all, you spread your efforts too thin. Suddenly, you're reacting instead of acting with deliberate, strategic focus.
  • Too many resources. People always complain about a lack of resources, but in some ways, it's better than having too many. When resources are abundant, people solve problems by throwing money at them. Constraint, on the other hand, breeds strategic thinking and creative solutions.
  • Herd mentality. If everyone's doing something one way, there's usually a unique strategy found in doing the exact opposite. It's uncomfortable and counterintuitive to break away from the herd, but you rarely find greatness within your comfort zone.

How you can work more strategically and efficiently
Entrepreneurs are hardwired to identify and seize opportunities, meaning we're predisposed to fall into one of the traps above that hamper strategic thinking. To get past this, you must understand that strategic action emerges from a simple two-step process: reflection and action. First, you should take stock of your resources, then craft a plan that leverages your assets into a competitive advantage.

Related: How to Embrace 'The Lazy Entrepreneur' Philosophy (And Still Be Successful)

Here is how to put this process in action:

  • Don't let tasks push you around. If you let things like email drive your daily routine, you're letting someone else prioritize for you. Instead, decide for yourself when and how you accomplish tasks.
  • Make decisions with an active mind. Understand all of your options and think things through before jumping on a new opportunity. Evaluate every possible outcome. Eventually, your predictions will become more accurate, enabling you to make smarter choices.
  • Align motivations that are out of sync. Employers want to increase productivity per dollar spent on labor, while employees want to increase their income, job satisfaction and quality of life. For productivity to increase, you need to align those motivations by creating happy, highly productive employees who will run through walls for you.

It's time to stop measuring productivity in hours and start measuring what actually matters: production. By focusing on your ultra-effective 20 percent and letting strategy -- rather than mania -- drive your decisions, you'll run your business more effectively without letting it run you into the ground.

Related: Retiring at 27: Ambitious, Lazy or Crazy?

Wavy Line

Stephan Aarstol is the CEO and founder of Tower Paddle Boards, an online, manufacturer-direct brand in stand-up paddle boarding. Tower Paddle Boards has as an investor Mark Cuban of ABC’s Shark Tank and was named one of the top 10 success stories in the history of the show by Entrepreneur magazine. 

Editor's Pick

She's Been Coding Since Age 7 and Presented Her Life-Saving App to Tim Cook Last Year. Now 17, She's on Track to Solve Even Bigger Problems.
I Helped Grow 4 Unicorns Over 10 Years That Generated $18 Billion in Online Revenues. Here's What I've Learned.
Want to Break Bad Habits and Supercharge Your Business? Use This Technique.
Don't Have Any Clients But Need Customer Testimonials? Follow These 3 Tricks To Boost Your Rep.
Why Are Some Wines More Expensive Than Others? A Top Winemaker Gives a Full-Bodied Explanation.

Related Topics

Business News

Apple Just Unveiled Its VR Headset. What You Need to Know.

The Vision Pro is Apple's first major product launch since AirPods.

Growing a Business

The Best Way to Run a Business Meeting

All too often, meetings run longer than they should and fail to keep attendees engaged. Here's how to run a meeting the right way.


Working Remote? These Are the Biggest Dos and Don'ts of Video Conferencing

As more and more businesses go remote, these are ways to be more effective and efficient on conference calls.


5 Things You Can Do Now to Improve Email Marketing

Abide by these simple tricks to help your campaigns gain more visibility and generate revenue in the process.

Science & Technology

'We Were Sucked In': How to Protect Yourself from Deepfake Phone Scams.

Phone fraudsters are using AI to clone the voices of loved or trusted people to rip them off. Here's how to detect if the phone is real or robot.