If you’ve been paying attention to the news this week, you’ll know that there is (more) scandal in the world of Investment Banking. Moritz Erhardt was a summer intern at BofAML (Bank of America Merrill Lynch), and he died in his shower last week. Apparently after working for 72 solid hours. As an intern.

Admittedly, those kinds of hours are largely reserved for doctors and investment bankers. But one does have to wonder whether the rest of us shouldn’t be saying:

Are we absolutely sure that we want doctors making life and death decisions, and investment bankers making boom and bust decisions, on 72 hours of no sleep?

And let me say something here: I think that an investment banking decision has far greater consequences than a medical decision. A doctor makes a mistake, a patient dies. An investment banker makes a decimal point error on a financial forecasting model, and it can make the difference between a mass-firing and the operation being spun into its own entity.

And once you start considering those impacts, you realise that an investment banker can touch more lives on the right deal than a doctor can touch in a lifetime. We’re talking about money here. It’s serious.

That said, long hours are beginning to happen across the board. I mean, I’m sure I could find statistics to show that’s true – but all you’d need to do is watch how late your dry-cleaner and local grocery store stay open. Gone are the days of closing at 4:30pm. They’re open until 8 or 9 at night. Some are 24 hours. And many are open from 6 am. They’re also open all day on a Sunday.

Housewives didn’t just decide to go shopping in the evenings and on weekends. It’s happened because we’re all working (the housewives as well), and we’re working later.

Why The Hours Are Longer

Today versus 50 years ago:

  1. Bachelor degrees are the new high school diploma.
  2. Masters degrees are the new bachelors.
  3. Doctoral students are still the academics.
  4. Black is the new white (did you get my empowerment reference?)

The professional work force is no longer the domain of the semi-educated white male. It’s filled with intelligent women and persons of colour.

At the same time, caught up in that race to the top, people have become less entrepreneurial, and more dependent on employment.

So with more people chasing the same jobs, the only place to go is longer with the work hours. Meaning that the longer hours are not going anywhere – best you learn to cope, or you get out of the rat race and settle for entrepreneurial risk.

How To Cope With Longer Work Hours

Here are my semi-researched, semi-empirical thoughts:

1. Take an exercise break before that take-out dinner at your desk.

You’ve spent a long time acquiring theory and skills while getting all those degrees. Now you need to let the subconscious do some of the work for you – and I find that it works best when you’re not trying to force it. After, there must be some truth to the “just sleep on it” adage.

When you can’t sleep, the next best thing is exercise. Go for a run, get out into the sunshine, do a little head-clearing,

2. Let That Take-Out Dinner Be Delicious

Raw fish. Salmon and tuna. I’m sure I read an article on it. Anyway – it’ll digest easier than KFC.

3. Don’t Multitask: Be Ruthless

Trying to do five things at once is not going to get them done any quicker than doing each of those one-at-a-time. It’s crazy to do them all together – as though somehow, you’re going to feel better because you haven’t left any of them untouched?

The endorphin rush comes from completion, not commencement. When you’re focused on one task, it usually takes less time to complete than you think. So violently ignore that sense of panic that comes from having plenty on your plate, and start by clearing one side at a time.

4. Say No Sometimes

Picking up tasks to impress is not going to impress if you become the person that’s holding everything up because you took everything on…

Besides, if you take it over later because you got through everything else, and you rescue it, then you look like a hero.

5. Be A Maverick

Somehow, even though most people think that arriving late and leaving early gets you frowned upon and/or passed over promotion – every office has that guy that does it, and not only gets away with it, but is sought after.

Just do what he/she does. They seem to have it figured out. Then share the secret – I’m sure we’d all like the opportunity to be inconsequentially brazen!

I can’t decide if this post came off as trite. But I’d like to be a maverick.

Anything else that you can think of*?
*This is my still-shameless attempt to encourage comments on the post. It’s part of my master plan to have you keep visiting. Making an effort leaves one invested!