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Working over capacity  

Gabriel Weinberg:

For the last month, I've been running at, over, or near capacity. I hate this state of being, and am glad it is over for a while (I think!). I try hard to avoid it, though it is not always avoidable in the short-term without consequences.

I hate it because I feel it gets you farther away from serendipity, which is at least for me the most surefire input to innovation. Without the extra capacity to grab startup micro-opportunities and generally mess around, I feel I'm missing out.

Interestingly, I have been working "at or over capacity" for the last month or so too. I have a different conclusion than Gabriel though.

Working at or over capacity feels good because you feel like you're getting things done. However, it is not sustainable. And yet it is a necessary step towards getting more done. What happens when I work at or over capacity is, in fact, similar to what Gabriel describes: I try to get away from the feeling of working over capacity. And the methods I use are similar:

  • Figuring out what is critical and what is not
  • Focusing on the long term
  • Delegating

There are a number of other techniques, but those are probably the key ones. What's important to note about those techniques is that two of them are about getting rid of workload that doesn't have a good enough return on energy invested, and the third one is about creating capacity.

And that is the right way to deal with working over your capacity: do less useless stuff and create more capacity.

So, for the same reasons, with the same observations as Gabriel, I come to a different conclusion:

Working over capacity is a symptom that I'm about to increase my capacity and improve my discernment about what is worth doing.

In other words, working over capacity (which unsustainable) is a precursor of personal growth. I guess that's why I like it. The more often I do it, the more I grow.

More from the library:
Build apps not businesses
Building a strong company trunk
On being an early startup employee