Get more work done without losing sleep.

06 || December || 2023

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#Issue 51

Why you should try focused hours

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Greetings, ET readers 🖖🏾

If you’re looking for short explainers on tech roles, we’ve got you. 

Binge watch the one-minute Entering Tech shorts on YouTube, and hear tech bros describe their jobs. Listen to professionals from Flutterwave, Dojah, Interswitch and Found talk about their work, and see if you’d like to follow suit. 

Watch the series here.

Faith Omoniyi & Timi Odueso.

Tech trivia

Here is this week’s trivia. Answer is at the bottom of this newsletter. 

  • How many hours, on average, does a person spend at work during their lifetime? (It’s not as much as you think it is!)

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Long and hard hours

In today’s tech world, working long hours is often equated to productivity. 

Tweets like this from tech influencers, for example, say that working overnight or long hours gets things done. While this might be a great approach to getting a lot of work done quickly, research has shown that employees who work more than 60 hours per week are more likely to experience burnout, which leads to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and health problems. 

You might say no pain, no gain, but there might be better ways to get more work done without losing sleep. 

Hey, it’s not rocket science. It is simply ✨focused hours✨ 

What are focused hours?

Focused hours are two or more hours dedicated to deep, uninterrupted work. It’s also called “Focused time”. It’s the time people tackle their most demanding work with undivided attention.

People who practice focused hours don’t bother about the constant beep of Slack notifications…or hot Twitter goss. Focused hours aim to eliminate all distractions so you can do your best work and get it done faster. 

Focused hours afford you a smarter approach to attaining your goals. Who doesn’t like smart work? 

Image source: Zikoko Memes

A study by the University of Texas at Austin found that employees who could focus on their work were more creative and came up with new ideas more often. Every startup needs fresh ideas to thrive, and focus time could bring fresh ideas that could give your startup a leap, which means more pay and bonuses. 

Some other studies have shown that employees who engage in focused work can boost their productivity by up to 20%, meaning that tasks that would take the whole workday to complete can now be completed with 2 hours to spare. One study, conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles, found that employees who had dedicated blocks of focused time were able to complete tasks 50% faster than those who were constantly interrupted.

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Techies talk about focused time

Now that you know the benefits of focused hours, you might be considering trying out focused time. Here’s how young professionals are doing it: 

Ifihan Oluseye, a software developer, says that prioritising tasks, setting boundaries, and single-tasking have helped her maintain a focused work culture. She says that having dedicated workspaces and noise-cancelling headphones has helped her remain focused during work hours. Ifihan also uses time-tracking apps to gauge her level of focused work hours occasionally. For Israel Adetunji, another developer, putting his phone on focused mode—or DND for Android users—helps avoid distractions. “When I am in my focused mode, I do not get any notifications which allow me to focus.”

Ifihan Olusheye

“I plan my most intense task towards the morning,” Kelechi Njoku, deputy newsroom editor at TechCabal—and my boss—tells me. For people like Kelechi and myself who work in short bursts of energy, identifying the work that requires the most intense amount of energy and prioritising it makes all the difference. 

“While I am not against working late into the night and having midnight sprints, the goal is to have a flexible schedule so that after you have worked through the night, your day is freed for other things like resting. “If I want a slower Monday, perhaps I do some of my work on the weekend”, says Kelechi. “The point is not to work, work, but to have time to rest and do other stuff.

Kelechi Njoku

Kelechi strongly believes that a focused work culture should be promoted at workplaces. “Employers should insist that once work has closed, employees should stop working,” he said. Israel agrees with Kelechi. “Founders need to understand that if they want their employees to be effective, they don’t want them to burn out, so you don’t want them working excessively,”  he said.

Basecamp, a project management software company, has a policy of allowing employees to work from home on Fridays, but they must use that time to work on deep work projects that require uninterrupted focus. Buffer, a social media management platform, has a policy of giving employees two hours of uninterrupted time per day to work on their most important projects. While this policy is not a new concept for startups in other countries, perhaps it’s time for HR to yield to Kelechi’s advice and implement focused work hours in your startup…or in your day-to-day work life.

Ultimately, the sole purpose of adopting focused work time is to ensure a fair work-life balance. Working all of the time is not a fair way to live life. I know it might be impossible to rule out the culture of overwork in the tech ecosystem due to its high competitiveness and because many tech workers are passionate about their work and are willing to put in long hours to achieve their goals. However, my [unsolicited] advice is for you to try out focused time. Do let me know your thoughts about focused work time—

Ask a techie

Q. Does tech as a profession have an age limit? Can someone be a techie or a tech professional all his life or does it have a time frame that one can be active in it?

No, there’s no age limit for tech professions. Just as we have programmers like Njoku Emmanuel who started coding during his teenage years, we have programmers like Masako Wakamiya, a Japanese woman who began programming at the age of 81 and went on to develop her app, “Hinadan.” Masoko is a testament to the fact that one can learn and excel in tech at any age. There’s also VM Vaughn who documented his journey to coding as a 56-year-old man. 

A 2017 UC San Diego survey of adults aged 60 and older found that 14% learned to code for their job, 9% to improve their job prospects, and 22% to make up for missed opportunities when they were younger.

Tech as a profession doesn’t have a predefined age limit. It’s an industry that continually evolves, and many professionals work in tech throughout their entire careers. While there might be a perception of a bias toward younger individuals in some areas of the tech industry, there’s also a growing appreciation for the value of experience and diverse perspectives.

People can remain active in tech for as long as they’re willing to adapt, learn, and contribute. What’s important is to stay curious, keep learning, and be open to change to thrive in the ever-evolving tech landscape.

That’s all we can take this week. Have any questions about tech in Africa? Ask away and we’ll find answers for you.👇🏾

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Tech trivia answer

About 90,000 hours; that’s how much the average person will spend working per a 2007 study


There are more jobs on TechCabal’s job board.

Disclaimer: TechCabal is not affiliated with or associated with jobs and opportunities listed on all its job boards and newsletters. All applicants bear the responsibility of researching about the roles and companies they apply to.

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Faith Omoniyi Intern Reporter

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