How to feel free when you work 14 hour days, by a Goldman associate

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It's over. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Skiing. Mauritius. Gone. Whatever it was, the winter break is behind us, ahead are Trump, Brexit, and spring.

If you're back at your workstation and wondering how to maintain the sensation of weightless you experienced when you weren't there 12 hours+ a day, you might want to catch up with Mai Le, that unusual thing - a Goldman Sachs IBD associate with her own open and honest blog about her life. 

Le is one of Goldman's lucky young bankers. After graduating from the London School of Economics and joining the bank full time in July 2014, she was promoted under Goldman's fast-track program and became an associate 12 months early. Goldman is doing its best to make life easier for Le's cohort: Saturday work is now prohibited and as much as possible is automated. But Le still works hard and still suffers the psychological consequences of interminably sitting at a screen.

“Everyday I work until really late, average out 12-14 hours a day. Subtracting sleep time, I only have about 3 hours for myself every day,” she writes in her last blog post, dated December 27th. "There are many things I wish to do with those three hours. I want to write, read and also spare some time to take care of myself.”

If you're working a 14 hour day, three hours of "me-time" may be wishful thinking. They seem to presuppose that Le lives in or near the office, or sleeps less than seven hours a night, and that she doesn't have to clean her own clothes or tidy her home. She also, clearly, doesn't have children - who can easily suck up three hours and more.

Even so, Le thinks she's hit upon a method of maintaining her inner equilibrium while spending most of her waking life working on financial institutions group (FIG) deals: she's worked out three things she wants to do during those three hours and assigned an hour to each, consistently. If you want work your way through all the books you want to read, assign an hour a day to reading, says Le. If you want to get fit: an hour a day to exercise. To write? An hour a day to writing.

Le attributes her approach to, "task decomposition in project management theory:"  "Before I know it, this consistency allows me to write for 20-30 hours, or to read and exercise for just as long."

Whether Le's method would work quite as well for a busy working parent with 30 minutes to themselves each day is less clear, but it could offer some small hope to 20-something analysts and associates who are already feeling the post-Christmas grind.


Photo credit: freedom by glenn Comvalius is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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