It’s easy to convince yourself that working until your eyes bleed and your fingers cramp is simply what must be done when starting something new.
You can dangle yourself the carrot that it’s just until you get out of the first hole: “Once we’re live, it’ll all calm down and I’ll be able to relax”.
But that’s rarely how it goes. The reality is that you’re never going to be done. There’s always more work. New initiatives, new customers, new competition, new technology, new ideas.
Unless you learn to set healthy boundaries early on, human biology will set in and carve those habits into your psyche. Double so if you enjoy success. You put in all this pain, it worked, and now you can enjoy the pleasure; it’s too tempting for your brain to pass that up as anything but causality.
One pattern to help yourself fight the mad dash for the mirage of being done is to think of a good day’s work. Look at the progress of the day towards the end and ask yourself: “Have I done a good day’s work?”
Answering that question is liberating. Often, if the answer is an easy “yes,” you can leave your desk feeling like you accomplished something important, if not entirely “done”. And should the answer be no, you can treat it as an off-day and explore the 5 why’s.
It feels good to be productive. If yesterday was a good day’s work, chances are you’ll keep the roll. And if you can keep the roll, everything else will probably take care of itself.