How to Work 80+ Hours a Week & Still Stay Healthy
Working 80+ hours a week sounds intimidating. That’s double the hours compared to a standard workweek.
Although sometimes we have to work longer hours due to heavy workloads and deadlines, we can’t ignore the consequences of working too much on our health and productivity.
Whether it’s crunch time, a transition phase in your career, a shift replacement for your teammate, or you simply enjoy working, you need the right strategies to maintain your wellbeing while grinding 80+ hours a week.
In this post, we’ll share tips and strategies on how to work 80+ hours a week, as well as a sample schedule to help you get organized.
Is working 80 hours a week possible?
Yes. You just need to divide your time strategically and sacrifice time spent on other aspects of life for work.
There are 168 hours a week, 24 hours a day. Let’s see how much time you have left if you work 80+ hours a week.
Working 80 hours a week
You have 88 hours left for non-work activities. That is about 12,5 hours per day. Assuming you sleep 7 hours each day, then you have 5,5 hours left for yourself, family, working out, meals, etc.
Working 90 hours a week
You have 78 hours left for non-work activities. That is about 11 hours of free time per day. If you prioritize sleep and sleep 7 hours every night, you have 4 hours left. Or you can sacrifice sleep to have more time for socializing, meals, etc.
Working 100 hours a week
You have 68 hours left for non-work-related activities. That is over 9,5 hours per day. So, it’s 6 hours of sleep and 3,5 hours of other activities.
Working 120 hours a week
With only 48 hours left for free time, you start to sacrifice more. If you want 5-6 hours of sleep, you basically have no time for other activities, even commuting. Unless you work from home or you live at your company, this schedule is almost impossible to maintain in the long run.
These are just rough numbers to give you an idea of what your weeks look like when you work longer hours. The more hours you put in, the less time you have for yourself and your personal life. You may stay up late, skip meals, or neglect other life responsibilities to catch up with work.
Who else also work 80+ hours a week?
Many successful and well-known people work beyond the standard 40-hour week. Some of them are advocates of putting in long hours, while others seem to think of it as a phase in their life.
When asked about the number of work hours per week to change the world, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla—Elon Musk—believes that number is about 80.
Marissa Mayer, former CEO of Yahoo!, worked 130 hours a week, pulling regular all-nighters and being strategic about when to sleep, shower, and go to the bathroom.
Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of PepsiCo, started her day at 4 am and worked 18 to 20 hours each day for 40 years. When she stepped down from PepsiCo, she realized there was life beyond working.
In his early days at Amazon, Jeff Bezos used to work 12-hour days, 7 days a week. The founder and former CEO of Amazon now prioritizes sleep, work-life harmony, and well-being.
There are probably thousands of other people out there working long hours for different reasons. But obviously, it’s challenging to maintain a work-life balance and personal well-being. And it’s easy to neglect ourselves and other aspects outside of work.
How to handle working 80+ hours a week
It’s hard, but it’s doable.
Working long hours means you’re more likely to face both physical and mental problems. Skipping meals or gulping down takeaways, as well as not exercising enough, may cause serious health issues.
Staying focused for a long period of time is hard. Without proper rest, your concentration diminishes, which leads to reduced productivity. You’re more prone to mistakes, accidents, and burnout.
To maintain your health, it’s best to have a well-structured schedule. Meals and sleep are top priorities, while free time is spent well thought out.
Eat and drink healthfully
Cramming 80+ hours into your week means you probably don’t have time to cook every day. In fact, many don’t cook at all. It’s just quicker to grab a convenience store sandwich, eat fast-food, or order takeaways.
It’s no surprise that about 36,6% of US people consume fast food on a given day. But convenience is killing us gradually. Fast food harms both our body and mental health.
So, it’s best to make homemade meals and be mindful about what you consume.
A few tips to make eating healthfully easier for you:
- Meal plan: Make a meal list and order groceries online for delivery or store pickup. You can pick up the groceries on your way home from work.
- Meal prep: Batch cook on one day of the week. Freeze food so you only need to heat them when mealtime comes. For recipes and meal prep tips, r/MealPrepSunday is a good place.
- Stay hydrated: Set up water reminders. There are a bunch of apps to help you with this. Refill your bottle and keep it with you so you don’t forget to drink water.
- Prepare healthy snacks: Nuts, fruits, Greek yogurt, berries, eggs, etc.
Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is vital to keep you alert and refreshed. When you’re sleepy, it’s hard to concentrate on anything. This may lead to producing subpar work or making mistakes you have to backtrack later on to fix. For more dangerous jobs, not being fully awake also comes with the risk of injuries and accidents.
That’s why getting enough quality sleep is vital. Here are some tips:
- Have a wind-down routine: If you have trouble sleeping due to the excessive exposure to screens, add some relaxing activities before going to bed. Read, take a warm bath, listen to soothing music or sleep podcasts.
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bed: These substances disrupt your sleep.
- Nap in a comfortable place: Nap in a quiet space, using beds, sofas, or sleeping bags. Nap right in your chair is not good for your posture and you aren’t comfortable enough to get a good rest. However, as not every workplace and job facilitates quality sleep, you can focus on bettering your sleep routine at home.
- Differentiate between work and life: Avoid working in your bed and avoid sleeping at your desk.
Move & exercise
If you work a desk job or work from home, you may forget to move around as frequently as you should. Sitting too much raises the risk of chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart diseases, etc.
We all know that exercise is good for our health. But when we work >80 hours a week and have an inconsistent schedule, we may use tiredness as an excuse for not getting physically active.
Some tips to keep you moving more regularly:
- Drink more water so you have to get up and go to the bathroom more often.
- Use a smaller mug so you have to get up to refill the mug.
- Set reminders to get up from the chair, stretch, or do light exercises.
- Practice yoga and stretching for 5-10 minutes every day.
Handle chores smartly
A lot of the advice out there for people working 80-hour workweeks focuses on meals and sleep, but handling chores is also a big concern, especially when you live alone.
Here are some tips for managing chores:
- Live in a smaller space so there’s less stuff to clean
- Spend 10 minutes cleaning up every morning/evening
- Automate house chores: robot vacuum, dishwasher
- Pick right up after yourself: put away stuff right after use, wash dishes after eating, etc.
- Hire a housekeeper once a week if you can afford
- Drop your laundry off on the way to work & pick them up on the way home
Use breaks, downtime & leisure time smartly
Breaks, downtime, and leisure time are necessary to uplift your mood and productivity. Throughout your workday, take short breaks to recharge. During the breaks, you can refill your water mug, stretch, go to the bathroom, or walk around the block.
Downtime is the period of time when a machine is out of order, when no new customers enter your business, or when you wait for supplies to come. Use it as best as you can.
In addition to short breaks between work, you need leisure time to balance the heavy workload you handle every week. This is the time to leave work at work and find quality activities to do. Walk, have family dinner, play sports, hang out with friends, etc.
Know your goals and priorities
Working more than 80 hours a week is certainly not a pleasant choice.
Whether you work so hard to make ends meet or you want your business to succeed, reminding yourself of your goals helps you stay motivated and prioritize the right tasks.
Knowing your priorities, you can say no to things that don’t need your attention. Because you don’t have much time left for everything, there’s no point wasting time on unnecessary tasks.
Schedule your day
Dedicating time for work 80 hours a week means you need to schedule everything so that you don’t drown in work and neglect everything outside of work.
Plan and follow a schedule that works for you
Write down important aspects of your life, as well as corresponding tasks, then block time on your calendar for them. This helps you divide time for activities easier.
Find time on your calendar for these activities:
- Most important work tasks
- Less important work tasks
- Socialize time
- Family time
- Activities that are important to you
Having tasks written out keeps you stay on the right track, and you know what to focus on.
◆ You can find out which period is best for deep work based on your chronotype.
◆ Once you’ve planned a schedule that works for you, create a daily schedule template so you can reuse it later. All you have to do is make small adjustments each day.
Related post: 6 Scheduling Strategies to Make a Better Personal Schedule
What’s inside this sample schedule
We’ll share a sample schedule that includes time for work, meals, sleep, exercise, and non-work activities. You can follow it right away or adjust it to work for you.
The below example schedule includes:
- ~10 hours for work
- ~15 mins for adjusting your schedule
- ~3 hours for non-work activities
- 7 hours of sleep
- 3 meals
Note: You don’t have to strictly follow the below schedule if it doesn’t work for you. The general principle is to plan time for work, meals, exercise, rest, socializing, and yourself.
A schedule example for people working 80+ hours per week
6 am: Get up
6:10 am – 6:20 am: Work out, stretch
6:20 am – 6:30 am: Shower, personal hygiene
6:30 am – 7 am: Breakfast. You can prepare a meal in advance or make a quick omelet/sandwich.
7 am – 8 am: Commute to work. If you work from home, you can check emails or review your daily schedule to know what you need to work on that day.
8 am – 12 pm: Focused work. Work on the most important tasks, with all of your focus.
12 pm – 12:30 pm: Lunch. Order a healthy lunch or eat homemade meals.
12:30 pm – 3 pm: Nap, rest, work on less important tasks
3 pm – 6 pm: Focused work
6 pm – 6.30 pm: Dinner
6:30 pm – 8 pm: Work
8 pm – 8:15 pm: Plan your next day, review your schedule and your to-do list, and mark priority levels for tasks
8:15 pm – 10:30 pm: Non-work activities. Commute home.
10:30 pm – 11 pm: Wind-down time: Take a warm bath, read, listen to podcasts, drink a cup of warm milk.
11 pm: Bedtime
Be realistic. You can’t be productive and alert for a full 10 hours each day. Schedule your most optimal time for tasks that need all your attention. Schedule less important tasks for when you’re less alert.
Extra tips for pulling off 80-hour workweeks
While having a proper schedule is the key to pulling off 80+ hours per week, here are some extra tips to help you cope:
Make good use of your commute time
If you don’t have time for exercise, you can opt to walk or cycle to work 1-3 days a week. If you take public transport to work, you can use that time to read, learn, call your loved ones, or do whatever activities that are convenient.
After a long, tiring workday, socialization might be the last thing you want to do. But you should make time to be there for your loved ones instead of choosing work over them.
Research shows that socialization provides both mental and physical benefits. As working too much may cause damage to both your mental and physical health, making time for socialization should be something you put on your schedule.
Use time tracking apps & timers
It’s easy to get carried away when you’re too focused on a task. Time tracking apps like RescueTime or Toggl let you know how many hours you’ve put into a certain task. Timers remind you to move on to another task so you can catch up with your activities.
When you’re too overwhelmed with the work you’re taking in, maybe try to seek support from family and close friends, or pay for services? Maybe your parents can help pick up your kids or the groceries. You can also hire a housekeeper so chores are taken care of.
In the end, do you really need to work 80+ hours per week?
Working more than 80 hours a week sometimes isn’t a choice. People need to keep their business up and running, pay bills, or advance in their career.
Even though working this much is your choice and you enjoy it, it definitely has effects on your health and personal life. If you find yourself sleep-deprived or constantly choose work over important sides of your life, maybe it’s time to rethink this work schedule and make plans to get out of it.
If an 80-hour workweek is your favorite or you can’t simply ditch them, following a well-planned schedule is vital. Make time for healthy meals, quality sleep, rest, family, and your mental health.