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How to Work 60+ Hours in 4.5 Days

January 29, 2013

On Friday I’ll be voyaging to Burlington, Vermont to spend a wonderful weekend with many friends who would make it onto my “top 25 favorite people” list, if I happened to have such a list. BUT, before I can kick back for the weekend, I must complete a very ambitious To Do list. It won’t be easy–there are going to be late nights and early mornings–but my reward will be a stress-free weekend in one of my favorite places on earth.

WorkThings I need to do between Monday morning and 3:30 on Friday afternoon:

  1. Work 40 hour week 
  2. Go to internship (7 hours plus travel time)
  3. Complete freelance assignments (between 8 and 16 hours)
  4. Finish blog post (1 hour)
  5. Go on two runs (1+ hour each)
  6. Job search and applications (1-5 hours)

Luckily (or–I guess–unluckily), this is not my first time pulling a red-eye work week in order to live large for a few days. It’s pretty standard fare for the breaking-into-publishing life here in Brooklyn, and at this point, I’m not intimidated by a few 15-hour days in order to do what I love. I know, it’s not necessarily healthy–I definitely don’t recommend doing this every week–but sometimes you just have to grab life by the collar and give it a good shake in order to remember you are alive and capable of incredible things. SO, here are my tips for completing the impossible in less than enough time.

  • Before the time comes for you to actually sit down and get to work, make sure you have prepared. Bake a lasagna, water your plants, download some podcasts (read our listening recommendations here), chop carrot sticks, and make sure you have enough pairs of clean underwear, because once you get going, there’s no time for pit stops. Also, make sure you have ice cream on hand; I’ll explain why later.
  • The next–and I believe most important–step is to get yourself into the proper mindset to complete the task at hand. Think of this project as a mission, not a chore. Envision yourself as a warrior, or space commander, or evil warlord, or whatever important-seeming persion you admire, and now pretend that this is the most important mission of your life. This is the week that people will make movies about. This is what your great-great grandchildren will remember you by. This is the project that will make history.
  • Now, make a very detailed plan. Don’t forget eating time, showering time, calling your mom time, and getting a bit of fresh air time. These are all important, and when you forget to plan for them, they can eat into your scheduled work time very quickly. Then–this is also very important–set your alarm clock according to your plan.
  • Okay, so now it’s day one of your work-a-thon and you’re starting out strong. How do you keep that momentum going? First, keep a glass of water next to you at all times. It’s amazing how much water you can drink absent-mindedly if it’s placed conveniently close by. Being hydrated will keep you feeling fresh longer.
  • Second, make sure to take stretch breaks every 1-2 hours. If you’re at a computer like me, that means stretching your eyes (use your farsighted vision for a minute by looking out the window or across the room) and your body (shoulder rolls and toe-touching are my two faves).
  • IMAG0848Third, practice cautious caffeine consumption. Especially if you’re a caffeine wimp like me, the last thing you want is to be lying wide-eyed in bed at midnight cursing that half a cup of English breakfast tea you had at seven (and dreading the long day of work ahead of you,) instead of resting up from the long day of work behind you. Even if you can handle your caffeine better than me, lay off the 5 Hour Energies (presumably five hours before you want to go to bed…)
  • Now let’s pretend you’re deep into the project. It’s day three, you’re exhausted, and the finish line is nowhere in sight. This is where we pull out all the stops. First, if your mind wants to work, but your eyes want to sleep, I have a useful, albeit strange-looking trick that has helped me push through my darkest hours. Soak a washcloth with water, ring it out, fold it lengthwise, and lay it over your eyes for 1-2 minutes. It’ll refresh your eyes and keep you from falling asleep on your keyboard.
  • If you’re still sleepy, up the stretch breaks to every 45 minutes.
  • Finally, when you hit your lowest of low points, it’s time to rummage around in the freezer and dig out that ice cream I mentioned in the first bullet point. Drizzle that baby with syrup, throw on nuts and frozen blueberries, and top it off with whipped cream. This is the dessert that is going to take you in sight of the finish line, so calories are not an issue right now. Enjoy that ice cream like you have never enjoyed ice cream before and then dive headfirst back into your work and push it to the end. Also, crank the epic music at this point. 

I’m well into my work week right now and should be going strong for a few more days. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes and feel free to post any of your best power-working tips–I’ll need all the help I can get!

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