80,000 Hours

Logan Vantrease

The average employee spends 80,000 hours of their life at work.

40 years
50 weeks a year
40 hours a week → the total comes to 80,000 hours.

Some work more, some work less. But for argument’s sake, let’s use these same calculations going forward.

Imagine that you spend just one hour in meetings every day of your career. We can use a poorly managed stand-up with a large team as an example. If you spend one hour a day over the course of your career (5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, 40 years), then that total reaches 10,000 hours.

10,000 hours is equivalent to 416 days. 1 year, 1 month, and 21 days of your life spent inside meetings. On its own, an hour seems inconsequential. When added together, it’s a bit frightening. Imagine what you could do or create if someone hired you to spend 10,000 hours on literally anything else.

In fact, there’s even a famous book that discusses what human beings could accomplish with this amount of time. In ‘Outliers’, Malcolm Gladwell introduces us to the 10,000 Hour Rule. He surmises that the key to achieving world-class mastery in any skill demands 10,000 hours of practice.

In 10,000 hours – you could:
-Invent a new app
-Learn a dead language
-Become a kickboxing world champion
-Master flamenco dancing
-Close a thousand new sales

In a cruel twist of irony, there is actually only one area where the 10,000 hour rule does not apply. Meetings. If anything, people who spend more time in meetings somehow seem to be worse at them.

At Nextup, we believe that attitudes toward meetings often follow the ‘Lindy Effect’. Author Nassim Taleb best explained the Lindy Effect using Broadway plays as his example.

“Lindy is a deli in New York, now a tourist trap, that proudly claims to be famous for its cheesecake, but in fact has been known for the fifty or so years of interpretation by physicists and mathematicians of the heuristic that developed there. Actors who hung out there gossiping about other actors discovered that Broadway shows that lasted, say one hundred days, had a future life expectancy of a hundred more. For those that lasted two hundred days, two hundred more.”

The expected life of something is proportional to its past life. Taleb went on to explain that this concept also applies to books. If a good book has existed and circulated for 10 years, it is statistically likely to be popular for another 10 years. While Taleb meant to highlight the positive effects of this heuristic, this snowball effect applies equally to negative patterns, ideas, and intellects.

If someone has participated in bad meetings every week for 10 years, the Lindy Effect maintains that they are statistically likely to spend another 10 years in bad meetings.

If you’re 45-50 years old and spend only 2 hours in poorly planned meetings a week, this means that you’ve spent just shy of 3 total months sitting through these inefficient conversations. Do you really wish to spend another 3 months experiencing the same inefficiency over your next 20 years? It begs the question – how do you break the cycle?

Our blog is centered around answering this question in detail. This article, however, is intended to discuss the power of compounding. While one hour a day might not seem like a ton of time upon first impression, it adds up over time. We believe that our service-based economy is reaching a point where we can truly chip away at these compounding problems.

If a new solution saves just 15 minutes a day, that might seem inconsequential to an individual workday. However, when multiplied out over the course of a year – that comes to 62.5 hours or 7 newly available workdays for each employee.

Push notifications are a particularly disruptive feature that we all encounter. Nothing can interrupt a deep work session quite like a small bright red pop-up in the corner of our screen. However, whether one sees them as an annoyance or not really depends on the person.

We don’t know what the message entails. We don’t know who it is from. We don’t even know if it’s important. But we check it anyway. We disrupt our valued-adding creation process to see what the notification wants to tell us. The unfortunate truth is that these notifications are seldom pertinent to our current workflow.

Like other compounding issues, this asynchronous method of communication adds up over time. We check these notifications because a 10-second disruption doesn’t bother us. 50 notifications later and it’s a different story.

At Nextup, our solutions revolve around compounding problems. Say hi to JIRA Integration + then goodbye to context switching – and now your employees won’t need to have 20 open tabs. Our integration tool has the ability to parse notifications so only select issues can disrupt your workflow. Meet Morgan – because nobody wants to waste the peak of their coffee high sitting through unproductive morning meetings.

Our products target the little issues that annoy you throughout the day. We make your work experience better. What could your team accomplish with an extra thousand hours?

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