Greatness takes time.

That's the school of thought when it comes to masterpiece paintings, incredible albums by bands like The Beatles, and even Microsoft Xbox video games. 

Reports about how employees at Rockstar Games worked 100 hours per week to finish the game Red Dead Redemption 2 reveal a lot about the commitment to making a masterful game, one that is likely to set sales records, win countless awards, and occupy our time.

Yet, there's something slightly infuriating about the fact that working so many hours is a sign of commitment. It's also amazing and impressive that employees show that kind of dedication, even if it's probably totally necessary. While some employees walked back the assertion, they did admit that working that many hours was required at times.

My issue with working 100 hours in a week is that, no matter how you quantify it, explain it, reason it away, or justify it...it still wreaks havoc on our psyche.

No matter the reason, and even if you're Elon Musk, working 100 hours per week means you have used up all of your brain cells to the point where the work output is abysmal anyway. You might as well quit after a few days.

Another problem with working that many hours? It reveals an inherent problem.

Let's say you have three years to complete a project. If your staff end up working 100 hours per week to finish anything, it means there was poor planning involved at some point. Or not enough workers. Or the project became unwieldy. Or that you're a little nuts.

The implication here is that 100 hours at the end of a project is required because of unforeseen issues, and maybe that's fine for a huge game like Red Dead Redemption 2, but it's a terrible precedence for anyone else. Most of us, in fact.

It's one reason the 10,000 hour rule doesn't make sense. For the most part, the idea of mastering something only after 10,000 hours has been largely debunked. What actually works? In my experience, good training, working smarter, tapping into your real giftings, and managing your time are all more important than the sheer number of hours you spend at something. And that's why there is a much better rule than working 100 hours.

It's not about quantity of hours. Those workers at Rockstar Games stopped being truly productive after the first 40-50 hours in a week, and even if they spread out the hours over seven days, that eighth day (the start to a new week, probably a Monday) was likely not nearly as productive as working smarter, more collaboratively, with a bigger team, using better project management tools, or with more time for the entire development.

Maybe Elon can do it.

Maybe Rockstar Games.

The rest of us mere mortals? Not so much.

It's true that greatness takes time. It's better if that time is spread out in a way that is more in tune with how the human brain works, that we have a limited amount of bandwidth each day when we can produce great work on a consistent basis.

The end result might be fantastic and innovative.

It will be even better if we wait a few more months.

Published on: Oct 29, 2018