Work Like a Lion

By Noah Graff

For those who don’t know yet, I’m going to have my first child in April. Many people are telling me that I won’t have any time of my own anymore. Life is going to consist of going to work and then coming home to be with my newborn son—and I’m going to love that as my new existence.

Right now, I spend a lot of time after work toiling on my weekly podcast, Swarfcast, along with some other creative projects. I know I’m going to have to alter my working habits to keep those projects going.

I have heard in the news recently about companies successfully implementing 7-hour workdays or 4-day workweeks. Bolt, a tech startup company in Silicon Valley, implemented a 4-day workweek last year. Since then, the 600-person company has grown the fastest since its inception. The founder, Ryan Breslow, believes the 4-day week was critical for the growth because the company’s employees felt happier and were extra focused at work. They approached their days with intense bursts of energy to get what they needed done. Breslow says they worked like lions as opposed to employees at most companies who work with little urgency like grazing cows.

It made me think back to one of my favorite Swarfcast episodes, in which I interviewed David Wynn, CFO of ABF Engineering, a Brown & Sharpe shop in Tennessee. David told me that his company gives its employees flexibility to work when they want and as long they want, provided they get their work done and work as a team.

I think in my job as a machinery dealer it would be difficult to change to 4-day workweek because most of the positions at Graff-Pinkert have little redundancy. I would be worried that customers would try to call us with opportunities, and then when we weren’t available they would call a different dealer who would answer the phone or return their email. 

I admit, I don’t always devour my to-do list like a lion. One rationalization I have for working less deliberately is that some of the longer than planned conversations I have with customers lead to serendipitous discoveries or grow important relationships. Also, sometimes I get off task on the Web looking for a piece of equipment and discover buried treasure that I would not have found if I had been so focused.

I know there are lots of inefficiencies in my day that if corrected could theoretically allow me to get more things done in less time. I could put limits on phone conversations, check email less, automate and outsource more tasks. I promise I am working on implementing these strategies at this very moment.

Everyone’s efficiency is a result of Parkinson’s Law—work expands to fill the time that’s available for its completion. Right now there’s no plans for Graff-Pinkert to reduce hours or shorten the workweek. But going forward I will still have to be more lion and less cow than ever before.


What tasks take up too much of your workday? 

Would you rather have a shorter workday or a shorter workweek?

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11 thoughts on “Work Like a Lion

    1. Noah

      Thanks Joe!

      Btw, I don’t know if I ever told you this before, but you were the first person I told that I was going to propose to me wife. (besides the people at the jewelry store of course).

      We were at the Cubs game for an MDNA event.

      Crazy right?! 🙂

  1. Miles Free

    It is not about more or less time. Stealing time from your family to get your work done is not a solution. It’s a problem.

    Stealing time from your duties to be with your family does nothing to help sustain your family- or the business that all are depending on.

    Our priorities for how we use the time, our discipline to use it intentionally-these are the keys to effectiveness in both work and home worlds.

    The problem that I have seen most often when people complain they don’t have enough time, is that they fail to offload some of their lower priority work that can be done by others. This is especially true in entrepreneurs- They seem to thrive on being the “key person” that every one needs. That may make our egos feel good, but it definitely hobbles organizational effectiveness.

    You can’t delegate at home. So figure out what to delegate at work, so that you are truly operating at your highest and best use- with the time that you have.

    1. Noah

      Yeah. Delegate.

      I’ve started getting into this great influencer/teacher/Instructor, Thomas Frank.

      He summed it up that many creators and business owners try to do too many things because of ego.

      That’s definitely something to remember.

  2. Bill Badura

    Congratulations Noah!
    I have 3 adult kids and the youngest has 3 of her own. Nothing
    I’ve been a part of in my life compares to the happiness they bring
    me. My only regret, regarding my kids, is that I wish I had spent more
    time with them when I was in my thirties and intent on being all I could be.
    If I had backed off 20%, and given that to my kids, I don’t know how that
    might have changed things with them, but my wife would have appreciated
    my presence. I don’t think it would have hurt me much professionally,
    either. I’m sure you’ll get it figured out.
    I am currently cutting back on machining, and hope to have a pretty consistent
    half day of work. (20-25 hours per week). When I was working for others, I
    preferred 3) 12’s or 4) 10’s, as the extra day or two off gave me time for other

  3. Seth Emerson

    Several years before I retired, the company implemented a 9/80 with employees alternating Fridays off. It meant low staffing on Friday. (9 hours Mon-Thur, 8 hour Friday 80 hours over two weeks.) Tough to do with a smaller company, but it fit okay for the larger one. As a manager, it was certainly less productive. The 9-hour day was not “an hour” more productive. But it was appreciated by the employees. Noah – What you might have to do, eventually, is to schedule what is most important for YOU to be there, and “Make room for Daddy” time. The requirement won’t come right away, but it won’t wait until the child is 5 or 6 either.


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