As a founder and the current CTO of Basecamp, a company known for its pioneering attitude to a modern workforce (every employee in the company works remotely, for one), David Heinemeier Hansson is more than a little clued in on both the standardised start-up ‘sleep when you’re dead’ mentality that’s particularly prevalent, not to mention what it really takes to make a great idea into a great company.
In a particularly scathing blog post, David rubbished the leading idea that success is at all linked to sleeplessness and a lack of self-care, using Charles Darwin’s seemingly lax attitude to work as an example. (The naturalist typically clocked off for the day at around noon.)
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“Don’t tell me that there’s something uniquely demanding about building yet another f*cking start-up that dwarfs the accomplishments of The Origin of Species or winning five championship rings,” he writes. “It’s bullshit. Extractive, counterproductive bullshit peddled by people who either need a narrative to explain their personal sacrifices and regrets, or who are in a position to treat the lives and wellbeing of others like cannon fodder.”
Indeed, he also points out that top athletes like LeBron James or Roger Federer get around 10-12 hours of sleep a night. And you can’t argue with 18 grand slam titles, can you?
The effects of excessive sleep deprivation, for example, extend to a difficulty in cementing new memories, a difficulty in evaluating the riskiness of certain situations, not to mention a heightened emotional state.
Instead of ignoring rest and relaxation, you should, in fact, be scheduling it in the same way you do exercise or working hours. Not only will you be more productive at work, you’ll be inching away from burnout – which doesn’t make anyone work successfully, no matter how much sleep you’ve had.
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