When Returns Diminish to negative

Tijmen Rümke
2 min readApr 2, 2021

Let’s say 40 hours equals 100% of output. Entrepreneurs will often claim that that’s not enough to get their business off the ground. There’s too much to be done, so you need to do more work. Or there isn’t room in the budget to hire extra people and your time is “free”. Putting in 50–60 hours a week. That’s simply the cost of doing business.

Of course, we understand that we’re not quite as productive that 50th hour as we are the 20th. But that’s ok. Because even if the gain of that last hour isn’t as high, more is still more. Right?

But what if your productivity isn’t just lower? What if it’s negative?

How can that be? Because you don’t work that 50th or 60th hour in isolation. It influences all hours of the week. Those last hours actually harm your productivity all over because they come at the expense of rest, idleness and play. Which are crucial for creativity, health, and ingenuity.

I’m not talking about one exceptional week. But work 60 hours a week long enough and I can guarantee you that your average effective productivity will continue to decline. Lower and lower. Being busy turns into mere busywork. Until you don’t produce more than when working 40 hours but less.

Work too much and your output is more akin to the output you could have made in 30 hours a week. Your time literally could have been better spent doing nothing. What a waste of time.

The only thing you got out of all that extra time spent on work was a false idea that you’ve given it your all. Ánd you give up your health and enjoyment of life. A terrible barter.

In our conversation on De Gebakken Peren, Kevin and Loes, the owners of Brouwerij Eleven shared that they used to work 7 days a week and then collapsed in the one day off a month they had. Not sustainable. We also talked about how they decided so quickly to build their own brewery and what it’s like to be business partners with your life partner.

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Originally published at https://www.studiogeorge.nl on April 2, 2021.



Tijmen Rümke

Empowering creatives to gain clarity on purpose and get business savvy. Trainer and Podcast Host by day, know-it-all by night. www.studiogeorge.nl