How to work 100 hours *almost* like Elon Musk and staying healthy on the way [advice from a med. student & full-time business owner]
The last 5 years I worked full-time on building my company I started 2016 while studying medicine full-time on the side. This was and still is (as I'm appoaching my finals) a big challage but I learned a lot of valuable lessons on the way I want to share with you.
The first questions that might come into your mind is: Why the heck would someone do this?!
This is simple one for me: I began working early to help out my family and parents and started helping out in a computer store when I was 15. When university approached it was clear that due to my tight first semester schedule I won't be able to work fixed hours. Stopping to work was not an option to me as this gave me the financial independence I always strived for. So I started a business to gain the needed flexibility while starting with my first semester of med school - oh boy did I underestimate the work at this time... 😅
How much time did I work in average: Let's start off that the exact number is hard to tell especially with the fact, that I did not log my business hours as my team and I do now (as a KPI measure). But what I can tell you is that my semester curriculum is made for a minimum of 40h a week (including clinical placements). When preparing for exams this can easily scale up to 60h+ For my business I worked a minimum of a full time equivalent (40h/week) but as every business owner knows the more realistic number is in the 60h/week, especially when starting out and still having to do most of the businessy stuff on your own (taxation, accounting, customer support, etc.). Short: University 40-60h/week + Business ~60h/week = 100-120h a week with ~100h beeing the more realistic number when it comes to the average
How to structure your days in a 100h workweek?
Before we start to structure we have to think about with what time we can work. Your so called "time account". The week has 168h total (24h x 7 days). After substracting the 100 working hours and an average of 7 hours of sleep a day (7h x 7 day = 49h) you end up with: 168h - 100h - 49h = 19h
So after taking off all our fix points you still have 19 hours left. That about 2,5h a day of freely distributable time. Now that we have those metrics down, we can start structuring.
Step 1: You will need a good calender solution.
Any calender app you're comfortable with will work. To declutter your mind you have to get the follwing mindset down that everything that's on your calender is important and existent. If anything is not on the calender - it simply does not exist. If you try to keep everything in your mind - this will simply not work.
With this mindset down you can start to "spend" and allocate the time in your "time account". For me this was:
- Planning my uni week and blocking time for every lecture
- Planning out my business appointments & projects
- Planning out my free time (sport, family, friends)
- Planning my buffers
This by itself are quite detailed steps and if you're interested in how to tackle every of those points you can leave me a comment and I might write a seperate article
Step 2: Prepare your TO-DO System
After the calender you will need a to-do system that works for you. I used a bullet journal and switched to a digital to-do app (every app will work) to manage all my tasks. And here you have to follow the same principle: Everything that is on your task lists exists otherwise it doesn't. This makes it very important to immediatly write down to-do's into your todo system. Some might call this "quick-capturing". Following this allows your brain to not waste capacity by trying to remember things and freeing up space and time on the way.
Basically those 2 steps are the fundamentals to be able to tackle the 100 hours.
Now let's come to the staying healthy part
🔴 I want to start this one with a huge disclamer: Working this many hours is not for everyone and that's totally O.K.! Some can live with this work load and for others this might be to much. This really depends on your personality. Everybody is made different and I ask you with all my heart to not force yourself into something. You don't have to work this many hours to be successful. You don't have to sacrifice thinks you don't want to sacrifice. Whats less important for me might be very important to you so always remember: You always come first - no matter what others say. At the end staying healthy should also include the psyche.
As a medical student I spend the last 5 years to learn how to get back your health so staying healthy is the most important asset everybody of us have. No matter the nationality, the color or the religion.
When working a lot it is really easy to forget yourself. That's why...
...I included the almost into the title of this article. Quoting Elon Musk he said that he worked
[...] every waking hour [...]
most of you might know this quote. And I do disagree on this one. This might work for Elon Musk but it surely did not work for me. Working every waking hour make you sacrifice your family and friends by not allocating them time. And that's what I am not compatible with my personality. So I always allocated a minimum of 1h a day for my family and friend. A fixed time slot - not negotiable. This allowed me to "collect" time over the week and go out with my friends on weekend for example. Same with family.
Don't overlook healthy food
Everybody knows that taking medicine will always have an effect and side effect. That's the same with the food we eat. Actually food is medicine that we (have to) take 1-3 times every day. It's medicine you can controle the effect and side effect. Having a mind to work 100h a weeks you'll have to provide good fuel to your body or like the data scientists say "waste in waste out". That's actually really accurate when looking at our body. My experiences: When I started eating more healthy food (for me thats a minimum of 2 servings of fruits, a handful of nuts, unprocessed food with good ingredients) I noticed how my sleep improved and with my improved sleep my whole cognition improved. The effect was so noticale for me that it was really easy to adapt this eating habits.
Again breaking down my eating would open another chapter. If you're interested let me know.
Have you ever asked yourself why most successful people do have some kind of workout routine in their day? If you ask me I think that if you reach a level of extreme workload, exercise is one of the most important parts to keep the energy levels high. Therefore I do plan a minimum of 6 hours of workout in my week. That's 6h less on my "time account" but the expense is more than worth it
When do you make a break?
Everybody need a break right? Atleast sometimes. And I am no exception here. I do have those "lazyman" days where my body signals me that it needs a break for some days - and that's ok! Actually our body is really good at communicating to us if it isn't well and we do have to make sure to get those signs right. I'll also be honest that sometime it is not in your hand and you have to perform no matter your feelings or your bodies signals (exams for example). In those times you just have to pull through and try to recover later, but when possible take the break.
Like you see I don't plan in dedicated hours for relaxing as hanging out with friends and family will recharge my work batteries but this might differ for you. At this point you still have 6h to allocate for yourself. You can take this as a buffer and allocate to your likings.
Keep in mind:
Working long hours needs a tight focus. It also has some sacrifices you'll have to make to keep up. Maybe you'll have to cut your netflix hours or reduce your time on social media apps but at the end you can decide for yourself what you can sacrifice to reach your goals. But you'll have to make one sometime so be warned.