Ingvild Saksvik-Lehouillier, First Amanuensis in Psychology asks us to reconsider our view on stress at work.
Employees in Norwegian startups work a lot more than what is normal and the most in the Nordics. But does long days equal more stress?
“I think I would be a lot more stressed if I went home from the office at 16.00 thinking about all the things I did not have time to do”, says Marius Norheim, the CEO of Trademate Sports.
He works 10 to 11 hours per day, 6 days per week with building the company Trademate Sports. And he is not the only one in the company working long hours.
The company’s CTO Tobias Velvang caused a debate when he talked about his 70 hour workweeks and an avg. sleep of 5 hours per night.
The company originated from NTNUs School of Entrepreneurship, where Norheim, Velvang and several of the other team members studied. During the fall of 2016, the company became Trademate Sports.
They have developed an algorithm which monitors odds markets for different sports searching for deviations at the bookmakers which can be exploited by professional sports bettors.
“We never consciously decided to work this much, it has just happened because it was necessary”, says Norheim and adds:
“I get a lot more done during a 60 hour week than what I get done during a 40 hour week. But the most important thing is to work effectively. Getting the most output from those hours. I’ve gotten a lot better at that over the last couple of years, both working more effectively and disconnecting 100% when I’m off work”.
The work life is changing and therefore we need to reconsider our views on stress says Ingvild Saksvik-Lehouillier.
She is the first amanuensis in psychology at NTNU and an expert on stress at work. With her colleague Jonas Vaag, first amanuensis at Nord University, she is working on a book which will give new perspectives on organizational psychology.
Amongst the themes are the positive and negative aspects with the untraditional ways of working and a lot of startups fall within this category.
“It is not necessary more stressing to work 11 hours with something you like and can see is yielding results, than working 8 hours on a job which you don’t like”, says Saksvik-Lehouillier, and adds:
“We know that cognitively demanding tasks don’t necessarily create stress, while emotionally challenging tasks can create a lot of negative stress. “Getting bored falls within the later category”, she says.
Working too much is a bad strategy. But what is “too much”? According to Saksvik-Lehouillier, it’s a very individual matter:
“The work life is getting changing and this has both positive and negative aspects. It is a complex theme, being engaged will for example result in experiencing the work as less stressful. But you also have a higher risk of not noticing the danger signs and as a result burnout”, she explains.
A challenge for many startups is that they have a lot of different tasks that need to get done, little time and great uncertainty.
“Structure is very important for people to experience a feeling of well-being. It can be as easy as getting up at the same time and eating regularly. Being able to make structures that work where one can is smart for entrepreneurs”, says the scientist.
For Norheim, the keywords for handling stress is “structure” and “balance”.
“I have been very conscious about structuring my days based on my energy levels. I’m the kind of person who waked up early and is usually at the office at 7.00. Then I use the time before lunch on the most important and cognitively challenging tasks”, he says and adds:
“After lunch I have two hours that I spend on meetings. I try to follow this rigourously. I’d rather move a meeting to the day after than to later in the afternoon.”
The next part of Norheim’s workday is handling all of the day to day routine work that has to be done, like paying the bills, managing the accounting and replying to emails. “All the stuff you have to do, but that does not require a lot of thinking”.
“Startups have the advantage that you very clearly see the output of the work you put in. Which is extremely motivating. I think my job is a lot of fun and I always look forward to coming into work in the morning. I’ve had summer jobs at a store, when I was younger. And those 8 hours lasted a lot longer than the 11 hours I’m working now”, he says.
Norheim has four areas which he considers to be important for his work-life balance: Work, training, social life and learning new skills. He tries to have a balance between the four.
“And this balance is important. I have football practice once per week. If I miss it because of work I get cranky”, says Norheim and adds:
“But the days where I’m not meeting friends or don’t have workouts planned I’ll rather work longer than spending the time on the couch and watching TV. I also try to meditate every day. It’s like a reset button to me. My 8 hours of sleep are sacred. I function a lot better when I’ve had a good night of sleep”, he says.
This is correct according to the science. Getting enough high quality sleep is possibly the most important aspect of performance, Saksvik-Lehouillier explains.
Cooler to sleep enough than to work too much.
“Negative stress and a lack of sleep have a lot of similarities. None of which are positive. Physically you get a lot more vulnerable to diseases. Also serious diseases like cancer, diabetes and mental illnesses. The cognitive abilities are weakened, so you lose focus, concentration and make more mistakes”, says Saksvik-Lehouillier and adds:
“If stress is the new “public disease”, is something there is a lot of disagreement about. But a culture where it is "cool to work a lot” has grown over the last couple of years. Our research group thinks it would be better if it was "cool to sleep enough”.
And what is sleeping enough? That you can notice yourself:
“The majority of adults need between 8 - 9 hours of sleep, even if it is individual and you can handle less sleep in periods. But the most important is how you feel during the day. If you wake up and feel well rested and you’re able to perform during the day, you’ve slept enough. If you need a lot of coffee to get going and are constantly tired during the day, you have a lack of sleep.”
As with stress, how much sleep one needs is a very individual thing.
“What we all have in common is that we can’t handle too much stress”, says Saksvik-Lehouillier.
The time before Christmas was a very hectic period for Trademate Sports and Norheim started to feel the stress. Now he’s taking one day completely off every week.
“And by that I mean completely off. No phone, not checking my email. Of course if it is a complete disaster I have to, and it has happened a couple of times. But if you structure your work well, you can be completely offline when you take time off”.
This structure has been developed over time.
“I have a very conscious relationship with how I perform the best at work. I regularly sit down and reflect about how I’m working, finding patterns and trying to find smarter ways to do things”.
Norheim refers to the book “Discipline Equals Freedom”, by former Navy Seal Jocko Willink as an inspiration.
“Structure enables you to free up time and energy and makes the workday less stressful, because you know that the tasks will get done and when they will get done. Of course it is important to feel when you’ve worked too much, but for me 11 hour workdays is working just fine”.
But it is not for everyone.
“I think it is great that we’re living in a society where 40 hour work weeks is what is normal. You have to be motivated to make it work. If you are at the office for 60 hours, but only spend 40 of them working, there is no point and you could rather take that time off”.
Trademate users have earned over 5.000.000 EUR in profit, and you can join them. Start earning real money beating the bookmakers with the proven methods of value betting now!Get started Now - For Free
Our partners at Oddshero applies the proven method of Matched Betting to help you profit from bookmaker bonus offers. You can earn your first 1.000 EUR in less than a month!Find out more
We recommend Sportmarket as your Broker/Account to the Asian Bookmakers and Exchanges.Visit Sportmarket
Get The Best Articles and News To Your Inbox
Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated.