The 80-Hour Workweek

16 February 2017 | 60 Comments

I’m slowly but surely learning how to say yes during my 80-hour workweek.

For a long time, my default answer for anything not directly related to Stonemaier’s forward progress has been no. Will you have a 30-minute chat with me about Kickstarter? No. Will you attend this convention? No. Will you playtest my game? No.

The reason for this is that my 80-hour workweek is a baseline. That’s the amount of time required to do my job, and that’s the amount of time I want to be working. It’s my sweet spot. I love my low-stress job, I sleep well, I freely take breaks, and I delegate a lot.

However, if I meet with you for 1 hour, that time isn’t deducted from the 80 hours–it’s added to the 80 hours. The result is an 81-hour workweek. We all have our tipping points, and that’s mine. As strange as it is to say, 80 hours is perfect for me, but 81 is too much. So I decline such offers.

The problem with this pattern of saying no is that it’s isolating. It closes every door before I can see what’s behind it. It often feels like I’m taking for granted that I’m lucky enough to have people who want to talk with me. And in many cases, I’ve forgotten that not saying yes doesn’t have to mean saying no–there are other options.

As I’ve become more aware of this pattern, I’ve stumbled upon some solutions. Here are a few tales and takeaways:

  • It’s okay to wait until I don’t feel as busy. A few months ago, someone from my alma mater contacted me about discussing a board game program they lead and their interest in getting into the board game industry. They asked if I could meet up for coffee to chat about it. At the time, however, I was really busy. When I’m really busy, it’s hard for me to conceive of a time when I won’t be busy. But I managed to look past that and tell them that I was really busy but that they should contact me in mid-February and we’d find a time to chat. I heard from them a few days ago, and we’re going to meet up.
  • I gotta eat lunch either way. A fan and burgeoning designer recently mentioned that he was going to be in St. Louis next week, and he asked if he could pick my brain for a few hours. I politely declined, citing my no-consultation policy. A few days later, it hit me: Whether I’m at my home office or at a restaurant, I gotta eat lunch. I don’t skip meals. So why not spend that hour chatting with someone? It’s not something I can do all the time, but sometimes it’s fine. So I wrote back to the designer and recanted my original statement, and we’re going to meet up next week.
  • It’s fine to stick to the plan. If someone asks to chat for 15 minutes, does it ever really mean 15 minutes? It’s pretty rare. For me, even just the concern that a conversation will last longer than originally stated has led me to say no to the entire idea. I’m working on that. Now, when we reach that 15-minute mark, I give myself permission to wrap up the conversation and get back to work.
  • If you want to meet, let’s make it happen…now. I attend very few conventions. Perhaps you can see why–if I work 14 hours a day, and I spend 3 days at a convention, the week that follows isn’t an 80-hour week; it’s a 122-hour week! But a lot of people ask if we can meet up at conventions. This has happened a dozen times in the last week alone due to the upcoming GAMA trade show. Instead of simply saying I won’t be there, I’ve been trying a different approach: I tell the person that I’m happy to chat via Skype at any time. Even today.

There are still a lot of things I’m going to say no or to redirect–despite my disdain for the word, it’s important for my sanity to stick to (and perhaps even reduce) the 80 hours. But I’m starting to discover some ways to work around that constraint.

What’s your hourly workweek sweet spot? How do you deal with requests that would take you beyond your tipping point?

I talk more in detail about what my day-to-day activities look like on the Board Game Design Lab podcast.

Leave a Comment

60 Comments on “The 80-Hour Workweek

  1. Hi Jamey, I still am not really quite sure where to put this, but decided to put this here because I currently do about an 80 hour week (40 at my “normal” job and 40 on my side projects which I hope to one day make a full time job).

    I was hoping to ask a kind of random question: How much has money contributed to happiness and fulfillment in your experience? I’m still trying to figure out what I want out of life in terms of career and the choice between safe, stable, and financially steady work vs. making indie (computer) games and the risks that come with that (which I think are similar to the risks a lot of entrepreneurs face when starting a new venture). Your blog posts and replies are very thoughtful so I would really value any insight you have on this from your own experiences. Thank you.

    1. rattasak: Thanks for your question! I appreciate you sharing it here.

      So, personally, I don’t really feel like I have more money than I did 10 years ago. I try to live within my means. I’ve had the same 900-sq ft condo for 13 years now.

      However, there were times 10 years ago and in my younger 20s when my budget was very tight, and it made me stress about little things, like when friends would split a check at a restaurant and someone didn’t pay their fair share. I’m now a lot more relaxed about a few dollars here and there–in fact, I really enjoy being the person who steps up to buy the appetizer, drinks, and sometimes the entire meal. That feels good.

      As for my company, having higher cash flow (which isn’t always the case, but in general it is a lot higher than 5-6 years ago) helps me be more generous to the people who do great things for us. It also lets me invest a lot more in a project up front.

      All of those things do make me happier, more fulfilled, and less stressed.

      In terms of how this might apply to you, it sounds like you value your career and are at least partially fulfilled by it. So why not explore other things as low-pressure hobbies to see how they work out while maintaining the stability of your job? I talk about this a bit here:

      1. Thanks for the link to that blog post Jamey. Sorry I didn’t already see it. There’s a lot of content (which is really great) and so I think I missed it / haven’t gotten that far yet. From reading the post, it sounds like you were able to work your “normal” job and stonemaier in tandem until stonemaier was seeing enough success that it was a bit less risky to switch to stonemaier full time (though I might be misunderstanding)?

        That sounds like a good option and what I have been leaning towards since I am a bit risk averse in general and am trying to balance that with doing my passion full time. The fact that you’ve been able to do it (as opposed to just me thinking it’s possible in my thought experiments in my head) does provide some peace of mind that it’s possible to transition to the passion projects full time if things turn out well.

        Thanks Jamey!

        1. rattasak: It is indeed a lot of content–take your time. :)

          That’s correct, I was able to work both jobs for a while. At a certain point I started working 1 fewer day per week at my full-time job, and that helped the transition.

          1. Just wanted to say thanks again for being so helpful with my questions and with the information you post in general!

  2. James: Before releasing my first game, I probably spent 5-10 hours a week on crowd-building (though I wish I had spent much more time active in the board gaming community). Now I spend 20-30 hours a week on some form of crowdbuilding.

    1. James:
      4 years ago, we did a lot more for crowd building. Prior to Stockpile’s launch, we attended conventions, crashed meetups, and spent nights at game stores to spread the word and play our game with anyone who was interested. For online crowd building, we actually didn’t do too much ourselves besides participating in existing communities and asking questions, much like you’re doing now. To answer your question, I’d say it probably averaged to 6-8 hours per week for gaming, usually 1-2 events per week, although it wasn’t consistent. Not only did it help my game get exposure, but it also helped me get more exposure to the gaming world at large, the types of games they liked, etc.

      Now, I probably dedicate less time than before because my work and family commitments are greater. However, I’d say my crowd building efforts have become more concentrated and effective over time. I’m probably averaging 1-2 hours per week now, but this time can really jump in periods where I focus on this function.

        1. James: For me, activity in the gaming community includes many of the things on that list (which we can talk about more in detail in the comments of that article if you’d like), as well as the various interactions I have with people on Facebook, BoardGameGeek, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and this blog.

  3. Hey Jamey,

    Hope this is an appropriate spot. I want to preface this by saying I Love your philosophy that keeping “consultation” conversations public really helps raise the tide in the industry, which in turn raises your ship too.

    I want to dive into what it takes to make being a game designer a full time, sustainable, job.

    When you say you work 80-hours a week, it appears to include things like running to the grocery store, cleaning up the house, taking care of the cats etc. So, I have a general grasp on how it is Possible to live a satisfying lifestyle, but not how to get there.

    When speaking of being a “project manager” (another fantastic read) you bring up a plethora of examples for “things that take up my time.” Things that, in my humble opinion, take them up in the best way possible.

    Most of those things require a good working relationship with other people. People who are passionate about you and what you are doing, or at least professional enough to hold up their end of a mutually beneficial agreement (a shockingly scarce trait I have found).

    As that reaches the crux of my understanding, here is my line of interrogation.

    Hindsight 20-20, if you were creating your first game:

    How would you best cultivate this community of independent contractors?

    How would you best cultivate “ambassadors?”

    Once you have created a game or so:

    Keeping in mind the target market. Could you see filling those 80 hours with activities like streaming, podcasting, blogging, or convention attendance supplementing your game design revenue, and simultaneously growing it? If you had more than one person in your company, now you get to work with 160 hours of “man-power,” so please consider economies of scale!

    On a more personal note:

    Do you struggle to find time for things that you enjoy completely unrelated to the table-top industry, or do you find yourself satisfied mostly occupied by that realm?

    For example, you like playing soccer. Do you follow the premier league? Did you ever find yourself “cutting off” certain interests to make room for being a successful game-designer?

    That is all I have for now. Please please please take your time responding. If you would prefer I re-post this somewhere to give more relevant exposure to you response just tell me!

    I can’t express the depth of my gratitude for your time and engagement.

    James Schoenster
    Co-founder of Cerebral Cellar

    1. James: Thanks for your note! Just to clarify, the 80 hours I work don’t include “running to the grocery store, cleaning up the house, taking care of the cats etc.” Those aren’t things that advance my business–those are personal things that I do in the 30+ non-work waking hours. I also don’t include playing games–my main social outlet–in the 80 hours.

      Hindsight 20-20, if you were creating your first game:

      How would you best cultivate this community of independent contractors? –I’m not quite sure how to answer this. My independent contractors aren’t part of a community; rather, they’re people I hire. Here are some related articles:

      How would you best cultivate “ambassadors?” –With Viticulture, people offered to help with things like proofreading and playtesting during the campaign, and I said yes! :) However, I should have been growing that sphere of playtesters in advance using the “help them first” method:

      Could you see filling those 80 hours with activities like streaming, podcasting, blogging, or convention attendance supplementing your game design revenue, and simultaneously growing it? –I would say I spend about 10-15 hours a week on that type of content creation and marketing (with the exception of convention attendance, which is much more time consuming and isn’t part of our strategy).

      Do you struggle to find time for things that you enjoy completely unrelated to the table-top industry, or do you find yourself satisfied mostly occupied by that realm? –I’m quite satisfied. :)

      For example, you like playing soccer. Do you follow the premier league? Did you ever find yourself “cutting off” certain interests to make room for being a successful game-designer? –I do indeed! I like watching the highlights, though sometimes I’ll tune in for 10 minutes of real-time game. I haven’t found that I’ve cut off certain interests other than my love of fiction writing.

      1. Thank you for such a quick response!

        Clearly, I have some misconceptions. Looking forward to digesting those links.


        1. Hey James –
          Thanks for posting the link to your comment on Twitter. Jamey’s blog has a lot of great content to digest if you’re trying to answer the part-time vs. full-time question, and I’m happy to chime in if you’re exploring this issue in depth and want some more perspectives. Let me know if there is something specific you’d like to know more about on the part-time side. And Jamey left me/us know if there is a better place in the blog to nest these Q&As.

          1. Hey Brett!

            How much time per week did you dedicate toward “crowd building” before releasing your first game?

            How much time do you dedicate now?

            Jamey, I would love to have your input on this as well!

            Thanks again guys, really helping me out here!

  4. Levi: Thanks for your questions (and for sharing your personal experience). For details about what exactly I do all day, here’s a podcast about it:

    I think we all have different tipping points and efficiency levels. What takes me 80 hours may take someone else 60 or 100. I really want to emphasize that the point isn’t that more or less time is better–everyone has their own sweet spot. For me, it just happens to be around 80 hours. That’s the amount of time I want to spend on my business each week. I feel incredibly understimulated if I work less than that.

    As you noted, I try to stay acutely aware of what my brain needs. Just like I gain satisfaction from working a lot, it also feels good to take breaks when necessary for meals, to work out, play games, or even to peruse YouTube for a few minutes.

    When I cross that 80-hour threshold for a week (or 12-13 hours on any given day), I feel overwhelmed both physically and mentally. It’s hard to describe it as anything other than a feeling. I know when it hits me, and I usually take a moment to acknowledge the things I accomplished that day, and then I go to bed. :)

    1. Frankly, I just don’t understand how you can have a healthy family life working that many hours each week… That’s why it makes me sad whenever I hear about people working more than even just 40 hours a week on a regular basis.

      1. Michelle: I just have 2 cats, no other immediate family (other than parents, brother, and sister, but they’re in other states). 80 hours a week still leaves me with about 30 hours for friends and relaxation, which is perfect for me. :)

        1. You mean 30 hours for everything outside of sleeping and working? ;-) I guess if that makes you happy, lol. For most people, that time disappears pretty quick between eating, getting dressed, brushing your teeth, and everything else (in our case, feeding the pets, cleaning the cat litter…). Doing laundry, cleaning the house, dishes, etc etc. I have a dog, so I spend at least 1.5 hours every day just walking (and really, everyone should be “exercising” each day even without a dog), and I definitely spend a couple hours each day prepping food, and feeding myself and the animals. Even outside family obligations and personal maintenance, there is so much stuff I like to do outside of “work”. If I worked an 80 hour work week, and subtracted out 8.5 hours a night for sleep, and even just 3 hours for walking, eating, feeding, and morning and evening rituals each day, that leaves just 7.5 hours for the week =P I still think it’s unhealthy to work that much.

  5. So, I know this post is kind of old, but I have a question I’m genuinely really dying to ask.

    I don’t understand how you enjoy working 80 hours a week. And I want to. Perhaps you could describe for me/us what all that entails, and how you got to be this way (or have you always worked 80/week?), and are there mental/psychological blocks you have combated along the way to be able to do this.

    For me, it is impossible to work more than about 50 hours a week, I think maybe I did 60 one time. But my brain gets burnt out; I can’t keep thinking; all I want is for the work to stop. I start goofing off while on the pretext of working, and because I’m feeling burnt out, my willpower is so low that I just keep taking the bait on goofing off. I also start to feel lonely and have a lot of thoughts about “is my life meaningful” and that kind of thing. Overall I enjoy what I do (software dev) but I stop liking it when I work that much. So, those are the “symptoms” I experience when I try to work more than 40, and especially more than 50.

    So could you perhaps share, do you experience these same problems, or did you and now they have gone away? Or do you feel radically different about your work than most people? How do you know if you’re working too much?

  6. I love this post, Jamey. I continue to find parallels between our creative worlds: yours of game design and mine of music. In a way, I’ve come at this same issue from the opposite way: learning how to say “no”. When you’re a musician going through school and the fledgling beginning to your career, there are so many opportunities to learn and be involved with what it is you want to be doing for the rest of your life, you tend to HAVE to say “yes” as you don’t know what will lead to what and which opportunities will be of value or longer lasting benefit. As you go, however, and start to have a track record (an identity, even), you become far more judicious in your “yes” and “no” decisions.

    Some tools that I’ve employed match or complement yours. The “working” lunch/dinner/drinks/coffee break is a standard and wonderful way to connect with people and network. Also, the walk-n-talk a la “The West Wing” is highly useful! :) Meeting at odd times or odd places that are convenient also has worked for me, too. I’ve got 20 minutes backstage during a rehearsal break? Maybe I can fill it with something. We’re both going into the city that morning? Let’s just meet on the train. If it’s at all possible for me to say “yes”, I usually do, because I’m always too curious as to what possibilities for opportunities may be behind that door.

    I think, too, that people sometimes have a hard time with what we define as “work”. As a musician, I practice, study, read about music, listen to music, go to rehearsals and concerts (my own and observing others’), and sometimes just sit in a chair staring off into space thinking about music. Not a lot of this looks like work to a 3rd party, but it all contributes to the 80+ hour work week! Not to mention the brain burn it can cause…

  7. I totally get where you are with the 80 work week. Currently doing a 40 hour a week job, and going to school part time, and designing some of the time on the other. Yesterday between work and a tech lab I was working for about 12 hours. Some of that was waiting on things to process, and eating, but still, there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.

    Knowing what goes into that, I wonder how your work day/week breaks down, is there time where you are spending browsing BGG/Facebook/web and interacting with customers, or listening to podcast/youtube to keep up on the gaming world, or even just playing board games to get inspiration, that may be part of “work” but its not high intensity work, and can be a bit fun. I think most people think 80 work week and think its high stress time during all of that, even though during a 40 hour work week there is time spent in meetings, prepping for things, and other low key tasks that need to be done, but aren’t high intensity.

    I know one thing that keeps me sane is setting aside one day a week that is on my weekend(my monday/tuesday) where I just try to relax, or use it to meet with people for fun non work things. This doesn’t always work, but its something I strive for.

    1. Sean: I really appreciate you relating to this–thank you. I completely agree with your keen observation about how the reality of my 80-hour workweek may different from the perception. As you said, it’s far from high-stress most of the time (if I’m not running a Kickstarter). Usually my day alternates every few hours between social media, e-mail/problem solving/project management, and (if I’m lucky) some design time. The only really stressful times are when I’m putting out fires. I don’t count playing games for pleasure as work time, and I typically listen to game design/review podcasts during short breaks (like brushing my teeth), so I don’t count that as work either (even though both of those things are important to my job, I would do them even if this wasn’t my job).

  8. Jamey,

    It’s funny because I remember vividly that you would take a lunch break and watch a particular episode of a show…all while monitoring the never-ending stream of comments during the Scythe campaign. No doubt, that game had more to do with the changes you have encountered in the last two years than your previous successes. To those who have already covered this…please take care of yourself and enjoy your passion. If you truly love what you do every day, you’ll never work a day in your life.


  9. I’m intrigued by your focus on hours that you put in rather than outputs that you get out. I don’t think the two correlate.

    How do you define work? Do you see a clear boundary between ‘work’ and ‘leisure time’? I ask because I imagine that as a full-time game designer/publisher you probably enjoy playing games. If you have creative thoughts whilst doing so, does that become ‘work’? Do you count chatting to people about games as ‘work’ or pleasure?

    I tend to work quite long hours (at least by UK standards – though I know a lot of Americans take much less time off) in my day job which is not in the games industry, and often have to work v hard as a surge to meet deadlines – but I also try to take long periods of time off when I can. That said, at the moment most of my ‘time off’ involves preparing for my forthcoming kickstarter campaign. Whilst I’m enjoying that, I’m conscious that it could easily turn into an all-consuming chore and leave me no time for other things I want to do like play games, travel, interact with people, etc. Getting the balance right is clearly important – though at the moment I’m thinking in terms of how I balance stuff over months rather than within a week – ie 3 months intensive evening/weekend effort, followed by chance to take a good long break (which will incidentally involve going to Gencon – though I don’t yet know whether I’ll be thinking of that as work…).

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m impressed that you’re able to look at the big picture in terms of balance–I find that difficult to do.

      For me, I don’t include playing games for pleasure as work, even though it’s certainly good for me as a designer. I would say that the softest barriers I have between work and pleasure happen through intentional breaks, usually on social media, Feedly, YouTube, or breaks away from the computer for meals. Like, when I get through my e-mails in the morning, I reward myself with a YouTube break. Then it’s back to work! :)

  10. As someone who also works an 80 hour week I know your struggles, like yourself I also enjoy it but it does add interesting challenges to make room for more interaction.

    Each day I have a 30 minute walk to work and 30 minute walk home, over the last couple of months I’ve started using this time to have chats. When people ask for my time, I try to slot it into one of these walks and it certainly has gone a long way to talking to more people.

  11. Take care of yourself, Jamie.

    Hearing someone is working 80 hours/week, even using his lunchtime for work, scares me. I’ve been there. I paid heavily. My health never recovered.

    It’d be very sad to see one of the best and smartest designers out there not being able to design anymore because he got burned out after a couple of years.
    Most people realize to late.

    I hope you have the constitution for this and will see the signs early enough.

    So, I can only repeat myself:
    Take care, will you?


    1. Thanks Lines! I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t realize you were suffering from overwork until it is too late. I’m very happy working the exact amount I work now, and if that changes, I’ll adjust accordingly.

      I don’t use my lunchtime for work. I take intentional breaks throughout the day.

  12. So, one of the problems with an 80 hour work week is where does it go from there? If you launch more products, or add anything else, you’d be at a 90 or 100 hour work week. While you may enjoy the work that you are doing now, you want to make sure that you aren’t the bottleneck for the whole company being able to get things done as the company continues to grow. We had this problem with a product manager who was in the midst of every product decision, and as we added more products and more customers his work day was longer and longer. That cannot scale, and he left when we started distributing work across other people.

    You might also want to look at some of the tools and processes that you use. I’ve learned that email is both necessary and terrible for organizing the things you need to get done.

    At work, we started using JIRA for our technical teams and IT, and we’ve started rolling it out for non-technical teams (purchase requests, compliance documentation, HR questions, etc). It makes it a lot easier to manage both my workload, and the output of my team when I can see their status without disrupting them. We use slack for internal communications, which is nice and quick with a distributed team. We use Agile methodology for developing our products and ensuring that the output of our teams is always the highest value items per unit time. We use ZenDesk to handle incoming customer issues that go into a shared queue that all of our Customer Service employees can collectively own (and it makes it easy for them to cover for each other when someone is on vacation). And we gather data on everything we can so that we can try to correlate issues as they arise and understand root cause.

    Obviously your work and company are very different than mine, but there are lots of systems and tools out there, and there’s been a trend lately of pricing them very competitively for small businesses, and scaling up the cost as the company grows. Another technique we use for some of our teams is Kanban, which was adapted for software companies after originally being developed by Toyota for car manufacturing (and there’s a board game based on it, which I’ve been meaning to play). So looking around at approaches that work for other markets may let you find something that is effective for helping to streamline your company’s work.

    And if not, it might just be design fodder for more board games :)

    1. These are amazing resources recommendations, Derian. Thank you for sharing them, and I’ll definitely keep them in mind moving forward.

      I’ve been working 80 hours a week since I went full-time for Stonemaier 3 years ago, and whenever my workload is on the tipping point of exceeding 80 hours, I realize it (usually subconsciously), and I find someone to delegate it to. That continues to affirm to me that 80 hours is the sweet spot for me.

  13. Hi!

    For me scalability is important. That’s why I’m a big believer in FAQs, recordings (audio/video) of your previous presentations, etc., because it might be relevant in some (but obviously not all instances).

    For example, they have a question about Kickstarter? Refer them to your massive posts on the subject. Your thoughts on game design? Your YouTube Channel on your favorite Game Mechanic. Can you make an appearance at a school? No, but link to them the videos you did for other schools in the likely event that there’s overlap. If there’s a question or presentation you get requested often, you can even pre-empt it and make a video/podcast talking about it beforehand (there are a couple of Richard Garfield videos on the fallacy of Skill vs. Luck for example but they’re honestly the same presentation and if he wanted to save time—there’s value in appearing in person after all—he could have just recorded the first 30 minutes, played it, and then spent the rest of the time answering questions, which is where variance comes in).

    *The other side-solution to this is if several people happen to have the same query and it’s not individual-specific, you can hold it as a group session so you might address 5 game design queries in a single 30-minute session instead of 5 separate 30-minute sessions.

    This won’t work for all queries, such as the discussion about the board game program (although if you do have a plan/syllabus for the board game program, making it available publicly might alleviate future queries on the subject) which is very specific, or about playtesting/giving feedback for a specific pre-published game.

    For the latter part, if you do know other people who are qualified to address those same needs, instead of declining, you can refer them to other people in your network. This enables your network to make new connections, and the person querying you also develops good will towards you for introducing them to your network or referring them to a person who they haven’t thought of. (Or if the project really interests you but you’re not available and don’t know anyone who can help, making an open call on your social media requesting if the community can help the person.)

    1. Charles: Absolutely, I agree with you 100%. That’s one of the big reasons why I create public content instead of offering private consultations–over time I’ve built up answers to 99% of the questions people ask me, so when they contact me, I just send them a link. Same with the YouTube channel.

      As for your last point, that’s one of the big benefits of our ambassador program. We have so many people who know all the same answers about my games that I do, and they’re on Facebook, BGG, and Twitter.

      I think what may be surprising is that I have all of those systems in place and I outsource 95% (if not more) of all tasks…and it’s still an 80-hour workweek for me. :) I think part of that is a sign that 80 hours just happens to be the sweet spot for me.

  14. If you can “fill” the lunch time with a conversation, then that means some things could be done in parallel. For example, the “let’s Skype” instead of “let’s meet at the Convention”, is your way of saying I want to make sure time is not wasted, but want to talk anyway.

    Suppose you will never ever hire a secretary to get rid of the 40 extra hours. Assuming the 80 hour schedule contains answering emails, blog posts, personal messages, organizing rules, playtesting, trying other games for inspiration, filming the weekly youtube videos, and finally updating this very blog, 90% must be in front of a computer screen. That leaves you a 10%= 8 hours off screen. A golden ratio could be “don’t make me lose my off-screen time!”

    What about for example, asking everyone that tries to contact you for a meetup, to suggest a play in a virtual site that supports verbal communication (arbitrarily taken, Tabletopia or Tabletop simulator), or even Skype at the same time? That way
    1. You have the conversation made,
    2. You have the opportunity to play a game that would otherwise fill your 10% off screen time,
    3. Have multiple blind testers, different every time,
    4. Judge the other person from their gaming thinking,
    5. .. lost it, but I had a nice one here..

    I mean by fusing 2 things in one, you stay home online, with 15 tabs open just in case, while at the same time converse with someone that also games with you, retaining 5-10% of your time for other uses. I see 3 birds hitting with one stone here, like eating and chatting altogether.

    Right now, I’m writing this post at home, with my baby boy in a pouch, leaving my wife to rest a few hours and warming him up on me. The toast is on my right hand, the glass of water on my left. Also 8 tabs open. It is doable, and I sleep my 8 hours daily.

    Cheers and please don’t get sick from all that work! :)

    1. Thanks Harry! I like your message of consolidation. And sleep. I never set an alarm–I just wake up when my body is ready–sleep and food are incredibly important to the rest of my day’s productivity (and my happiness).

  15. Authentically relieved to hear I’m not alone in this boat. Like… for reals.

    So my story/answer to the question:
    For 2017, when my wife and I made a choice to stay in LA we made a choice to also “live more intentionally”. I too at 80hours a week, but being an extrovert I was dying without seeing people. We’ve since opened up our Saturdays (the day I usually burn out and accomplish nothing anyway), so that when someone says “Hey, wanna get together” we say SURE, come over Saturday! : )

    Getting the rest I require also helps all other aspects. The 79 hours (cause I overslept) is more productive than the 80 would have been, and I’m nicer and less stressed when the friends meet up.

    So long as I plan it, and choose it in advance, I’m emotionally prepared and it doesn’t feel stress-full to do something other than churn out ‘forward motion’.

    Truly deeply love you all. Jamey, and all the other posters and readers I see here all the time.
    (Also a benefit of “carving out time”. It feels like “slowing down”, and it really has allowed me to better appreciate the people around me. I can “live intentionally” with them.)

    1. Thank you for sharing and relating to this, John. I particularly appreciate the idea of being intentional and planning ahead–that applies to me professionally and personally. Like, if I know I have a dinner with friends with some advance notice, I can be fully ready and present for it. But if a friend calls me at 6:55 and invites me to a 7:00 dinner, it’s much harder for me to say yes or be present if I attend.

  16. Michelle: Thanks for the recommendation! Yeah, my subject line was a callout to that book. :) As for your last sentence, I’m definitely an exception to that rule (and I’m guessing I’m not the only one). On most hours of the day, I’d rather be working than doing anything else. And I don’t mean that in an obsessive way… Like, I love to read fiction. I do it every night for about 30 minutes. And 30 minutes is just about the exact amount of time that I want to spend reading fiction every day. That’s how I feel about my job–this is exactly what I want to be doing 80 hours a week. Not 79, not 81–80. :)

    1. Except no one is saying to “work” less, but shorten how much time it takes you to do what you have to do so you can devote some hours to saying yes to things that would help you maintain these connections. If your limit is 80 hours, then make it so you can get your work done in 75 and then spend five hours a week saying YES. Or even just shorten to 79 and then spend one hour a week saying yes =P It just seems a little silly to say that you absolutely have to work 80 hours a week and can’t say yes to other things. Obviously you do some time management to squeeze it down to 80, since you said that is your limit and what you prefer, so why can’t you squeeze it down a little more when you have another opportunity to connect with others that you might otherwise say no to? I really don’t understand this post at all ;-) :-P I would figure out how much time you want to have available outside of your core work and figure out a way to get the work down to that many hours. I promise you, if you don’t have enough “other” stuff to fill in the hours to reach 80, you WILL find work to fill that space. It’s like a woman’s purse, no matter how much space you have to fill, you will fill it. My point is that if you figure out strategies to get your work down to fewer hours, then you will have the choice and option to just plain do what you want. If you want to actually work 80 hours and say no to everyone, then do that. If you want to go to a convention, then do that and squeeze your work into fewer hours. If you are saying no to all these things, then that just tells me you don’t want to do those other things. You don’t HAVE to work 80 hours a week and have no time for anything else, that is what you want. You don’t prioritize making time to do those other things, and that’s why it’s not happening. I’m glad you’re figuring out ways to say yes more, but even with the strategies you posted, you are still limiting yourself well beyond what I think is necessary. But everyone is happy with different ways of life I guess, so as long as you are happy. This post is not coming across to me the way I think you intended… I’m sorry, I don’t know many details about you. Do you have a family, any pets? I can’t even imagine actually wanting to work that many hours a week… Man, I spend time with my parents, see friends, take care of my pets, go for hikes, do some paddle boarding, relax with a tv show or a movie, talk to family and friends who aren’t close by, eat food, clean up the house, etc. And I have a whole list of other things I would like to do more of with my life as well, like read, learn another language, learn to dance, start a garden, get back into photography, re-kindle my creativity in writing. Different strokes for different folks I guess ;-)

  17. It sounds like you are saying that you are happy, but if you would rather actually be able to say yes to some of those things (and NOT work 80 hours on just your “work”), it might be valuable to read The 4-Hour Work Week. I wouldn’t be happy in your shoes, but that’s me. I don’t know who wouldn’t want to do the same work in less time though, and then have more time for other things…

  18. I work in advertising, an industry that prides itself on a poor work-life balance. I’d rather not count the number of failed marriages, break-ups, and burn outs in my relatively small agency alone. However, to your point, work-life balance or the amount of time you should spend working doesn’t have to be capped at 40 hours. I think often we assume that leaving at 5 is the gold standard of said balance. That doesn’t take into account each individuals own choice or proclivity to work longer. Someone once told me to focus on sustainable work habits; suggesting that it’s not how long or hard you work but rather if your productivity is sustainable over any given amount of time. If in your case you’re productive and happy with an 80 hour week, why limit yourself to a pre-conceived 8–5 standard? You do you.

  19. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I know from personal experience that I want to just do everything myself, so I know it is done right, but at some point, I just couldn’t do it all myself and had to let go. Now I have people that sort of “clean up” the piles of things, and only bring me the important tasks that require my input.

    You wouldn’t do all that you do for the community if you didn’t get something out of it, so maybe have someone field initial contact for you. You could be much more effective that way and probably help a lot more people, even if it isn’t you directly answering questions or looking at submissions for everything. A second voice working on your behalf could be very liberating.

  20. Time to delegate some of that 80 hour workweek and get a portion of your life back Jamey!
    I realize that’s a difficult thing to do, and many say it’s impossible, but there is always a way.

    1. James: Interesting that you say it that way. I’m actually really happy with my life the way it is–I genuinely enjoy these 80 hours. I just know that I have my limits, and that limit just happens to be 80. :)

      1. Well if you enjoy those 80 hours food on you!
        I can’t help but feel there is some desire to shift some of those work hours to alternate activities based on this blog post though.

  21. You might change the title of this one to “Lessons in Time Management”. It sounds like you are learning some valuable lessons in that realm.

    It has been my experience that employers who ask 8 hours of their employees get about 2-5 hours of real work in that time frame when the employee is not closely monitored (desk jobs not labor related jobs).

    On the flip side the self motivated person might think that they are only spending 80 hours a week working and in truth it is more like 100 hours or more, because of time spent thinking about projects. This is compounded when a person is doing the job of several people (generally the case when talking about entrepreneurs).

    Between public relations, business management, and the real work of doing whatever the company is involved with, many self employed people run into major burnout very quickly if they don’t adapt to the core principles of time management.

    Either way the main issue is not how long you work, it is about being truly productive with the time spent. Life is not a schedule of events, but it sure runs better if you have one.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Definitely, I like the idea of working productively instead of just working for the sake of working. One of the pleasures of my job is that I have no one to misguidedly impress by working longer instead of working harder. Though the 80 hours vary in intensity. Like, if I’m working on a game, some of that time is simply spent thinking. Having that time to mull and process is really important to the process.

  22. Hi Jamie,

    I’m a big fan of your blog and your book, and I think you’ve provided a lot of very strong insights into the board game development process, crowdfunding, etc. However, I’ve noticed in your writing a defining trend of focused self-determination that may be overwhelming you. While I know you’re essentially a team of one, I think looking into ways to delegate and/or outsource work would be a big benefit for you, and allow you to better pursue the opportunities you mentioned here. Just my two cents and thank you for everything you do for the community.

  23. You probably could share your time in an organized way. Have a secretary or be your secretary and dedicate 4 hours a week (5%) to chat with others. :) It’s up to you defining how much it could last :) Add 5 bonus lunches to the count :)

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