Weekend vs Weekends

Posted by in Engineering Management, Startup

Since the start of my career I had got weekends for leisure time, but being in a startup I used to end up working on most of the Saturdays. So when I got an opportunity to work at TinyOwl which was 6 days a week, I was completely fine with it, because I thought that I anyway do work on Saturdays, what’s the harm if it’s officially open. 3 Months post joining TinyOwl, I was often getting a feeling of work burnout. I then decided to evaluate what was going wrong. as I was used to that much of work. Then I realised it was the ‘Saturdays’

Saturday Effects

Working on Saturdays was not just affecting my Saturdays but 4 other days of my week! Let me tell you how.

  • Friday night hangover: On this day I was thinking that I have to come to the office tomorrow. Since it’s a working day next day I cannot chill out late nights as this would affect next day. Friday evening is quite an eventful day in the city, all the parties happen on this day. It has that psychological connection with Friday nights, which were getting ruined because I have to go to the office next day.
  • The Saturday: This day I am thinking that Why even I am at the office, I could have been at home just chilled out relaxed, spend time with friends. Probably could have used this to make trips around the city, being on western ghats I have the lot of things to explore which just seem to inaccessible. So I am working and thinking about all the cool stuff I could have done this day.
  • The weekend: This day is supposed to be the relax and chill day. I woke up lazily at 11PM and what half the day is gone. I have an office next day. I can’t use this to go for extended activities. And this was subconsciously not letting my mind relax.
  • Monday Blues: We already have Monday blues, but they become more intense as I did not get a proper vacation and I am cribbing about that I wasn’t able to do things which I could have done if Saturdays were off. I could have relaxed on Saturday and then used Sunday to do fun activities. But all I could do on Sunday was just relax.

So what is the difference I was working on Saturday when it wasn’t Working day, but now why do I hate it. The issues are with the fact that it is mandated, previously I was doing it because I did not have anything better to do at that time and work was a fallback. But now it’s a compulsion, which unknowingly creates mental pressure.

Productivity vs Work Hours

A lot of co-founders/managers consider working hours as the metrics for productivity. But that is wrong! Even at an individual level I will say never measure your productivity with a number of hours you work. I have seen people who work 30 hours a week and yet deliver at the same pace as their peers do by spending 40+ hrs. What is important is that how many hours which you spend at the office were efficient. You are a human and your mind needs a break, it has the capacity to think a lot, but if you keep it busy all the time, you are distributing your efficiency over time, just making per hour efficiency less and increasing the risk of making bad decisions.

How to measure productivity then? What I do for myself is that I have defined monthly buckets, so I evaluate myself on a monthly basis and see how much work I have done, If I am satisfied that I have delivered enough number of items then I worked well, else I need to do a due diligence on what went wrong. Why monthly? The week is too short a period to measure it, as there can be cases where my mind was occupied with something and was not able to work at full potential. So a monthly period for me normalizes all of that and gives me a good picture of my progress. And again I am not measuring a number of hours I was sitting in an office and working.

People vs Product

Another thing is that we need to understand is that you need to build teams, people, and culture. If you do that your product will automatically build up automatically. So it is really important to understand that people who are working you are humans, not machines whom you are paying to get them work for certain hours. It’ individual which build the product you have, it’s the creativity and the thought process of these people which make your product. These people will decide where your product will be in future, you can definitely influence how the product will be but you can’t make all of it alone. So it’s really important to ensure that these people have a healthy atmosphere so that they can think freely and work efficiently. Forcing them to sit in the office for longer is not going to help you. No matter how long they sit in office the productivity is going to be same in fact sometimes it can cause an entirely opposite effect.

Weekend vs Weekends

Giving weekends to people and taking weekends for yourself is not bad. Trust me it will boost your productivity. Great weekends will bring in fresh and healthy minds on Monday and more motivated. People will always be there at the time of need. Nobody will say an absolute No to work on Saturday when needed. But making it mandate is not a right approach to get more working hours. Having working Saturdays is like pushing in more gas on thin pipe, which will some or the other day burst up if the pressure is not controlled. If you

If you have 6 days a week, take some time and think, is it really needed all the time?

Akash Saxena, An ex-colleague of mine explains this with more details, here at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/fallacy-6-day-week-akash-saxena