Work for only 3 hours a day, but everyday

I am an indie iPhone developer, and I’ve been working for 3 hours everyday for almost 2 years now. I started this habit in early 2014, and I have continued to do it since have I found that this is the most productive way to work for me.

Taleb and DHH advices

I first got this idea when I watched the talk by DHH (Rails creator) in the startup school.

He was saying this:

"Working long hours isn’t productive at all, if you work for 8 hours, try for 5 hours, or only for 4 hours. If you only have that time to work, you don’t have time to see Twitter while working."

Also, when I read the book Antifragile by Taleb, he mentioned that the trick to working in a productive way over a long period of time is to only work for a short amount of time every day.

Making money on the App Store is really tough, and people don’t care how many hours I spend on my apps. They only care if it is useful or not. This is a completely result oriented world, but personally, I like it.

I have always thought about how I can optimize my time to work effectively, and after I tried a lot of different ways, I found it best to limit my work time each session for the best result in the long run.

Spaces are a very important factor in UI design, and that theory holds true for working.

Why 40 hours a week didn’t work

I can choose how I spend my time since I am making my own apps, so first I’d been searching for the most effective way to divide my work time weekly and monthly.

There is no one who orders me to work, and I can rest anytime, so I made a quota first. For example, my first quota was 40 hours a week.

I calculated my work time using a stopwatch, and I checked like “Ah, I worked for hours today”, and “I went out yesterday, so I couldn’t work, so let’s work more today”.

However, even if I work for the same amount of hours, the productivity depends on the conditions for each day. When I am tired or in a bad environment, I can’t focus. The work quality was not consistent at all.

Often, even if I could focus for the first few hours, the more time would go on, the less I could focus.

Work short hours every day

Then, I made a rule to work only 3 hours every day without holidays. This is a bit extreme, but in this short hour limit, you are more motivated to work harder to make your working time meaningful.

First, the most productive time for me is after I wake up, so I need to sleep well, and start working right after I wake up. I don’t read any news or SNS because even if I only read them a little bit, it could affect my productivity because it distracts my mind.

I even disable all notifications on my iPhone before I go to bed, so I don’t see them before I start working next day.

I prepare for each day seriously like an athlete who prepares for their games in the morning. There was a huge difference of productivity between a 9 hour work day and a 3 hour day.

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