I have always found it comical when someone tells me that they work 80 or 100 hours a week. I can unabashedly say that has never been the case for me. Don't get me wrong, I've put in 80 hour work weeks in the office, but over 50% of that time was surfing the net, shooting the shit, and pretending to look busy.
Why is that so? Startup boy makes the salient points for me:
In fact, your best work was probably done in tremendous, focused bursts, surrounded by long periods of dullness and inactivity. So, let’s try to figure out how to maximize the probability and productivity of such a burst, rather than try and force it to be predictable and prolonged.
Everyone is different in terms of their productivity, but nobody can keep it going mentally for 80 hours at a time. For me, I have tremendous bursts of output followed by lulls that I would describe as a "hamster running on a treadmill" (with me being the hamster).
In my old days, this would frustrate the hell out of me. But, since I started running my own show, I was able to cater my company around when I felt most creative and productive. I use the times I don't feel creative for administrative or tedious tasks. It works and I believe this is how most smart startups are structured (video games, food, hanging-out atmosphere). I wonder how much more productive big corporations would be if they accepted and catered to this notion.