Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Q: I'm a co-founder of a startup, and my other co-founders are putting in 70-hour weeks. How many hours should I work? I want to succeed, but I'm worried about burnout.

When trying to get your business off the ground, the pressure to succeed by spending long days at the office can feel necessary, especially if your co-founders are putting in 70-hour work weeks. But the idea of burning out is ominous, and can have you wondering if you'll actually make it to see your business take flight. Experts say you should ignore the number of hours you're putting in, and instead focus on what needs to get done.

"I think what happens a lot of times in startups is that we feel like we have to do everything yesterday, instead of deciding what are the priorities and the true road map with milestones that need to be done in an x amount of time," says Rusty Rueff, a career and workplace expert for Glassdoor.

Story continues below advertisement

Leaders of an organization also need to realize that they're setting a precedent for their employees. If a founder or chief executive officer is working 60 or more hours a week, then their staff will probably feel they should be putting in the same amount of time at the office.

"You do cast a shadow as a leader," Mr. Rueff says. "If you're a leader that's working ad nauseam hours, that's sacrificing all other things – personal life, physical conditioning, your nutrition, your basic Maslow's hierarchy of needs – to just put hours in on the job. Your team is going to do that as well and you can expect that you're going to end up with burnout on the team, and that's going to hurt you more than it's going to help you."

Mike McDerment, co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, doesn't count the number of hours he is working, but rather focuses on whether he is being effective with his time. The same goes for his employees at the cloud-based accounting software service. "Are they getting the things expected of them done, and are they excellent on the time frame we're looking for? That's what matters," he says.

Mr. McDerment also makes sure to unplug from work so that he can recharge. He doesn't think about work from Friday at 7 p.m. to Sunday at about 4 p.m. "If I get that period to kind of recharge, it enables me to be available throughout the week," he says. But he recognizes that there are times when he and his team will have to put in more hours to get something done.

Instead of asking how many hours one should work in a week, Mr. Rueff suggests co-founders should ask themselves: "What is the work that needs to be done and how long does it take to get that work completed?" By prioritizing and having the discipline to say "no" to those things that don't need to be completed immediately, he says, an organization's leader will realize that they can get the imperative things done without working 100 hours a week.

"I think what we do a lot of times in startups is we play five-year-old soccer with our work. We see the ball, and everyone runs after the ball. The ball moves and let's run after the ball, instead of stepping back and saying, 'No, the ball needs to move, and these people go here and the other people need to wait till the ball comes back,'" Mr. Rueff says. "There's no need for everyone to rush and sprint after everything."

Follow @GlobeSmallBiz on Twitter

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies