I was going to say it first, but no one asked me, and Mr. Murthy beat me to it. Of course, we should work 70 hours a week. That’s the bare minimum. I don’t know about Mr. Murthy but I used to work 70 hours when I was a baby. As a working adult, my average is 120-140 hours. My personal best is 170 hours a week. That’s a full two hours more than the official number of hours in a week which is 168 (24 multiplied by 7).
You may ask: how did I manage to work 170 hours when a week only has 168 hours? But that’s missing the point. It doesn’t matter how many hours a week has. What matters is your mindset, and I think that’s what Mr. Murthy was getting at. Do you have a 170-hours-per-week mindset or are you a clock-watcher? By mindset, I mean something that’s unaffected by petty things like salary and promotion. With the right mindset, you would work 170 hours a week even if your salary is worth only 17 hours a week. Are you that person? That’s the question you should ask yourself.
Fortunately for you, and for this country, I am an expert at squeezing the most out of every working day. If you give me 24 hours, I’ll take 34 hours out of it, work conscientiously for 26 hours, and use the remaining eight hours for high quality REM sleep. But if you want to be like my friend Chakrapani, a serial entrepreneur who eats an apple a day and co-finds (or is it co-founds?) a new start-up every two days, then you’ll take the pill that induces somnambulism and continue working in sleep-walk mode. That’s not for everyone, though.
There are, however, strategies anyone can use to expand their work week. You may never get to 170 hours like I did, but 70 hours a week should be a cakewalk.
Get a job
The biggest challenge facing any Indian who wants to work 70 hours a week is finding that much volume of work to do. This is going to be tough unless you have a regular job. So, if you don’t have a job, I suggest you get one immediately. I know it won’t be easy. In India, unemployment is more common than the common cold. But you can always start by getting a pumpkin. You may have heard of the saying, ‘Pumpkin hai toh mumkin hai’.
Typically, the reason why even employed people don’t work 12 hours a day every day — the minimum needed to clock 70 hours a week — is that if they did so, they would finish all their work by Wednesday and have nothing to do on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, making their bosses look stupid. This is why time management is critical. Learn to manage your time well so that your working day achieves the elasticity needed to expand from 8 hours to 12 hours.
The key to effective time management is tracking your distractions. Turn on all notifications, have a few hundred tabs open, and keep in your line of vision a dedicated entertainment device such as an iPad streaming a web series that you can dip into for a short break of 40 minutes for every 40 seconds of work.
Create to-do lists
This is a powerful tool that can expand your work to 70 hours even if all the tasks you’ve been assigned can be finished in two hours. Amateurs make a simple to-do list of tasks to be done. But the to-do list of the pros is not linear — they break down each task on the list into smaller, more manageable sub-tasks, and each of the sub-tasks into sub-sub-tasks, and so on, until the to-do list has spread to 40 pages and consumed three days of your work week. If done well, this can make your modest workload seem monumentally overwhelming — something like Zeno’s arrow which could never reach its target because it could never leave the bow.
It’s the best way to ensure a perennial pipeline of unfinished work. Start off on at least two major projects at the same time, and by ‘same time’, I mean in two parallel devices, such as phone and laptop, where you are simultaneously typing with both hands on each device while your eyes are glued to Netflix on your iPad. This is a favourite among immortals who routinely pull 90-hour weeks.
The author of this satire, is Social Affairs Editor, ‘The Hindu’.