Michiel Nuyts

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The 80 Hours a Month Project

December 03, 2019
  • hustling
  • success

Since August 2019 I’ve been doing a lot of extra learning, coding, and writing besides my full-time job. November is the first month where it really just fell apart. In all the previous months I did pretty good and produced a lot of new blog posts, a big side-project, and a lot of studying about important principles of software development, and read 15+ books. What went wrong? And can I keep this value creation process going for the coming years if I solve some problems with my current system?

  • August: 74 hours
  • September: 78 hours
  • October: 70 hours
  • November: 30 hours

As you can see I actually never managed to get to the 80 hours so far, I’ve always come close and told myself I’ll just do 90 hours in a month to increase the average to 80 hours for the last few months. Now with the terrible results in November that kinda became impossible and I was also just missing the point with that mindset.

November has turned out to be my most un-productive month since I started in August. The thing is that 20 hours per week is just not sustainable for months on end. So I can either start working 4/5 at my company or do a bit less each month because forcing 80 hours per month isn’t going to work and will result in actually accomplishing less anyway. Remember that hours clocked in isn’t the real metric to measure.

The real metric is value produced each month. Some examples are, the number of blog posts published, the number of new features written for my side-projects, books read and the lessons learned from them, new principles studied and learned in software development. Those are the things that will produce real value and it’s those that I should measure, not the number of hours spent on what I decide is categorized as productive because let’s face it, that just makes it easier to fool myself.

I can still track the time, but I should measure it against the value I produced each month, I suspect that might give me a lot more insight. So starting from December, I’ll measure my journey to success, as I might call it, in the value I produced. How that will translate itself to my systems I will have to see, but I’m excited to see where this will go.

So why am I so obsessed with doing extra? Why can’t I just be satisfied with the work I produce at my full-time job? I’m not sure, but I’m kind of slightly obsessed with success since around 6 years ago when I threw my life around and started doing software development full-time. I’ve never finished high school and worked the worst jobs they threw at me. I’m grateful for that though because I developed a lot of discipline at those jobs, they sucked but I never complained about it. Instead of complaining about my life, I turned it upside down. I looked for a part-time job, barely could pay my rent and I studied for 12 to 14 hours a day. A few months later I was doing software full-time. With focus, discipline, time and knowing what to learn, you can move mountains in just a few months. I still believe that.

So now that I’ve been doing software for 6 years or so, I kinda want to see how far I can get. Since the start of 2019, I’ve been reading a lot about financial independence and early retirement. And I feel that is a worthwhile goal to pursue in life for the long term. And of course I’m still passionate about everything about software so those are the things keeping me in check for now.

So comming back to my ‘system’ I think I just need to set a few montly goals like writing x amount of blog posts, writing x amount of features for my side projects and new concepts I want to learn. I just need to figure out the average time I spend on things so I don’t set too many goals that I’m not going to be able to accomplish anyway without burning out. Because I’m pretty sure I came really close to a small burnout in November. But no way I’m settling for less anytime soon.