2 Tips For Transitioning to 90 Hour Work Weeks

Needless to say, people who are still in college, especially seniors who have already accepted a job offer, are probably cruisin' in every sense of the word. That's cool...you guys have about 8 months until things go South for the next 2 or 3 years of your life.

But it's not all bad, right? You get some good pay, hopefully some great experience, and are prepared to face the world as a freshly-minted alumnus of an Investment Banking Analyst program (or consulting, if that floats your boat). For the time being, however, you're still in college: parties, girls, skipping class and sleeping in, and general debauchery take precedence over most other things until you're handed that diploma. Fun!

But in the back of your mind, be cognizant of the fact that 90-hour-weeks are coming. How do you prepare yourself for that? Good question.

This is something I've thought about for quite a while. Most of us out there haven't experienced true sleep deprivation. Sure, when I was in college, there were some really late nights and sometimes 4-5 days (finals week comes to mind) of only 3-4 hours of sleep per night. But gentlemen, that's only 4-5 days in a row!

There was a quote on WSO that I remember where a user said that investment banking is like finals week in college for 2 straight years. Okay, no BS here, that sounds fairly challenging. I also once read one of those "joke" cover letters one time (or maybe it wasn't a joke, who knows), in which an aspiring investment banking candidate wrote that he had been preparing himself for the hours by sitting in front of his computer for 18 hours a day without ever standing up. Weekends included folks.

That's all good and fun, but what if we seriously do want to make sure that we're in tip-top shape before the 90-hour-weeks hit?

This is a question that I don't have a lot of answers for, as I haven't started the Analyst thing yet anyway. But I can imagine that the following things might be helpful:

1. Semi-normal sleep schedule
What I mean by semi-normal isn't your desired 8 hours per night, but instead trying to focus in on a more "routine" schedule. In college, sleep patterns change dramatically: you might sleep 4 hours Wednesday to Thursday followed by 13 hours Friday to Saturday, for example. In IB, from what I've read, barring those few strange nights per month, you can probably count on 5-6 hours per night. I think it makes sense to start adopting a 6-hour night now, and also making sure that you're falling asleep and waking up at the same time, to build that routine. From 2:30AM to 8AM, for example.

2. Build up an exercise routine
Exercising is good for you, keeps you sane, etc. -- this has all been discussed frequently on WSO. But trying to get into a routine once you've started working, as opposed to doing so 3-4 months beforehand, is asking for trouble. I know I've been shirking on my exercise duties recently, and probably will continue doing so as the holidays start rolling around...best believe that in February and March, I'll be back on the horse making sure I've eased into a routine before June.

These are the two big things that I've thought of so far. What would you add to this list? What, in hindsight, do you wish you'd done to prepare for your Analyst stint? Is "preparing" a load of crap, or actually useful?

Thanks for reading.

Comments (23)

Nov 12, 2012

i feel like #2 is a good idea, but #1 isn't. You should definitely get as much sleep as you want while you still can. When you are working 80 hours a week, you'll definitely have to get use to the sleep pattern quick or get fired so I would definitely enjoy your sleep while you can

Nov 12, 2012

As Arnold once said in some similar fashion.

You sleep six hours and have 18 hours left. Now, I know there are some of you out there that say well, wait a minute, I sleep eight hours or nine hours. Well, then, just sleep faster, I would recommend.

Because you only need to sleep six hours and then you have 18 hours left, and there are a lot of things you can accomplish.

You don't need more than 6, if you are sleeping more than 6, sleep faster.

:)

Nov 12, 2012
yeahright:

As Arnold once said in some similar fashion.

You sleep six hours and have 18 hours left. Now, I know there are some of you out there that say well, wait a minute, I sleep eight hours or nine hours. Well, then, just sleep faster, I would recommend.

Because you only need to sleep six hours and then you have 18 hours left, and there are a lot of things you can accomplish.

You don't need more than 6, if you are sleeping more than 6, sleep faster.

:)

lol "sleep faster"? um how?

re op, i think you'll lose motivation pretty quick on #1, maybe you could start doing that a week or two before starting in but otherwise that sounds like overkill. this isn't navy seals special ops you're training for..... or is it?

2 makes sense definitely

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Nov 12, 2012
AndyLouis:

lol "sleep faster"? um how?

I don't know, ask Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Nov 12, 2012

as far as (1) goes, establishing a normal sleep pattern is a good idea, but restricting your sleep to 5-6 hours per night for the next 8 months is a terrible one. "adapting" to restricted sleep is not a real thing, so adopting such a schedule now would only ensure that you're already suffering the effects of chronic sleep deprivation when you start work, which will make it significantly harder to stay afloat during your first six months on the job (i.e., the most stressful/frustrating/soul-crushing six months you're likely to endure in your professional life), when you need to be on the ball around the clock. you'd be better off practicing good sleep hygiene and cutting out stimulants.

Nov 12, 2012

Don't try to prepare for the hours / unpredictability... it won't do any good. Your psyche will naturally adapt when it is forced to on a daily basis. Just enjoy college. I would do some unforgivable things to go back to senior year after having secured my offer and knowing that life wasn't going to get much sweeter.

Nov 12, 2012

Okay this is going to sound ridiculous, but over the summer I interned at a boutique and realized that I was really struggling to stay awake the whole day. I stayed in my campus dorms and my bed was hard as a rock. So I asked my parents for early birthday money and spent $100 dollars on a mattress pad, and realized it made 5-6 hours of sleep feel like 7-8. I'm actually serious, I am not by any means trolling. Unless you guys have money to buy one of those memory foam mattresses, you guys should invest some heavy money into a mattress pad because one little thing made my life so much better.

Nov 14, 2012
AQM:

Okay this is going to sound ridiculous, but over the summer I interned at a boutique and realized that I was really struggling to stay awake the whole day. I stayed in my campus dorms and my bed was hard as a rock. So I asked my parents for early birthday money and spent $100 dollars on a mattress pad, and realized it made 5-6 hours of sleep feel like 7-8. I'm actually serious, I am not by any means trolling. Unless you guys have money to buy one of those memory foam mattresses, you guys should invest some heavy money into a mattress pad because one little thing made my life so much better.

I can second this. I used to have major insomnia (tossing and turning for a good 2-3 hours before I could fall asleep). After getting one of those mattress pads, I'm usually asleep 5 minutes after my head hits the pillow because it's just -that- comfortable.

Vyraal:

Just curious, how do you guys fit in your workout routine during these hours?

Also curious about this. Lately I've been going for morning runs (3-5 miles, 35-50 minutes because I'm a slow runner) but I end up needing to wake at 6am in order to fit in the run, a shower, and the commute (only 25 minutes, thankfully). I was considering taking my lunch hour to work out but I'm not sure what protocol is for analyst-level staff.

Currently: future psychiatrist (med school =P)
Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)

Nov 12, 2012

As far as the times you workout, find whats best for you. When I was working those kinds of hours I certainly didn't have the discipline to work out before work. Maybe you might need that. Although, it does boost your metabolism. Find a routine that works and stick with it about 3 weeks before hand.

PE is the new black.

Nov 12, 2012

From my experience sleeping 6 (and even 4-5) hours at exact same time every night is more effective than 7-8 hours average with a haphazard schedule (especially if these 4-6 hours are between 11PM and 5PM - that's just awesome).

The problem however is that your work at IB\consulting doesn't give a rat's ass about your sleep schedule. Good luck telling your MD you have to go to bed in half an hour.

Nov 12, 2012

If you are working 90+ hour weeks (I experienced this during the summer) it really isn't difficult to fall asleep. If you need help take some melatonin pills. They help induce rem cycles. They are dirt cheap like $2 for 100.

http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/opt/melatonin.ht...
That being said the hard part is always waking up. That you will eventually get used to. I once had a job that forced me to leave my place at 5:30 AM. I was getting up at 4:30 like it was nothing. Sometimes I would go to sleep at 1 AM or later on the weekends and still get up by like 5:30 - 6 AM just because I was so used to it.

Nov 12, 2012

eat healthy and get into shape because it just gets worse when you work

Nov 12, 2012

1) I agree with the melatonin comment. It is a weird drug however. I only use 1/2 or 1/4 of the pill (3mg) and it knocks me out. I have really weird quazi-dreams where I'm still awake and conscious of my thoughts - but they start to drift into abstract/bizarre dreams. I can't tell whether I've slept better in the morning, but now I don't lay in bed for 2 hours wishing I was asleep.

2) I dont think there is anything wrong with getting used to 6 hours of sleep. I absolutely think your body adapts to your sleep patern so getting used to 6 hours (which is plently of sleep IMO) will be helpful.

3) Now that you're getting 6 hours of sleep, try to get into the habit of waking up and working out. I'm not sure if this will be possible but getting a quick 30 minute jog 4x a week will be huge for your energy levels, focus, mental health, and general well being.

4) I may get some backlash, but stop drinking soft drinks and coffee. Switch to green/black tea - I'm in the process now and it doesn't really taste great but I'll probably get use to it. I've noticed a much higher level of focus and energy. Google green/black tea vs coffee and you'll see a large concensus that tea > coffee. It has a small amount of caffeine, and doesn't make you crash but has something called L Theanine which apparently creates some sort of caffeine triggered brain cocktail. From wikipedia:

"Able to cross the blood-brain barrier, theanine has psychoactive properties. Theanine has been studied for its potential ability to reduce mental and physical stress, improve cognition and boost mood in a synergistic manner with caffeine."

Try it one night when you're tired and need to stay up and see if it helps out. Also since you don't have a ton of caffeine running through your system at 3am its easier to fall asleep - and you get a deeper more restorative sleep.

Nov 12, 2012

90 hours really isn't that bad. In a 90 week you are probably working 14 hour days (9am-11pm avg.) and probably 10 and 10 on the weekend. This still leaves you with 78 hours ,or just above 11 hours a day, to do with however you please. You can definitely get 8 hours sleep average. And still have plenty of time to go out or putz around during the week.

Its when you get to 100 or 110 that things just get nasty... and... hallucinations.

Nov 12, 2012

You don't need to prepare for 90 hour weeks. There really is no way to fully prepare. In all honesty, exercising is a bad idea. You should focus on eating right. Good carbs and high protein, those are two things that will keep you going. Exercising before work will drain you. Exercise before bed.

If you aren't getting 6-8 hours a night of sleep, you're obviously going out after work. If anything, most nights unless it is a busy week, you'll leave well before 10pm and count on leaving at around 8. You'll want to get into the office by 7.

What most students don't know is that on the weekends, you aren't expected to be in by 7. Most stroll in around 9-10 and some 11-12. It just depends on what time you want to leave on saturday.

Sundays, the office is pretty dead. If you're there on sunday, well, that pretty much means you're a dipshit and slow as fuck when it comes to putting together pitchbooks. Obviously, you're in the wrong business.

90 hours a week is a little exaggerated if that is what you've been told. You might work maybe 1 90 hour week in a year. You're in the right business if you can get all your work done in about 60-70 hours a week.

It is not about the title that you have, it is about how much money that you have.

    • 1
Nov 13, 2012
StrongMan:

You don't need to prepare for 90 hour weeks. There really is no way to fully prepare. In all honesty, exercising is a bad idea. You should focus on eating right. Good carbs and high protein, those are two things that will keep you going. Exercising before work will drain you. Exercise before bed.

If you aren't getting 6-8 hours a night of sleep, you're obviously going out after work. If anything, most nights unless it is a busy week, you'll leave well before 10pm and count on leaving at around 8. You'll want to get into the office by 7.

What most students don't know is that on the weekends, you aren't expected to be in by 7. Most stroll in around 9-10 and some 11-12. It just depends on what time you want to leave on saturday.

Sundays, the office is pretty dead. If you're there on sunday, well, that pretty much means you're a dipshit and slow as fuck when it comes to putting together pitchbooks. Obviously, you're in the wrong business.

90 hours a week is a little exaggerated if that is what you've been told. You might work maybe 1 90 hour week in a year. You're in the right business if you can get all your work done in about 60-70 hours a week.

wild thought: S&T isn't the only job in a bank. weird that

    • 1
Nov 13, 2012

Just curious, how do you guys fit in your workout routine during these hours? I know my boss at my current internship sneaks in a workout during lunch, and eats/works at his desk right after, especially when the hours start getting crazy. Not sure if this would be culturally acceptable for a junior however.

Are you guys REALLY working out with compound lifts/cardio or just jacking off in the gym for half an hour? (Then again any type of exercise is better than none I guess)

Morning sounds like a really good idea to get into a routine, but not going to lie, it sucks balls getting up early, I'd rather work late and wake up 7AM'ish than work relatively earlier and get up at 5:30AM.

Nov 13, 2012

You guys are idiots. Working 90 hour weeks to make $100k a year? My uncle made $400k revenue in two years by selling apple juice, and I can guarantee that he never worked more than 50 hours a week. Entrepreneurs for the win bitches

Nov 13, 2012
simon-kemp:

You guys are idiots. Working 90 hour weeks to make $100k a year? My uncle made $400k revenue in two years by selling apple juice, and I can guarantee that he never worked more than 50 hours a week. Entrepreneurs for the win bitches

you tell 'em simon

Nov 13, 2012
simon-kemp:

You guys are idiots. Working 90 hour weeks to make $100k a year? My uncle made $400k revenue in two years by selling apple juice, and I can guarantee that he never worked more than 50 hours a week. Entrepreneurs for the win bitches

Revenue huh? How much profit...

$400k / 2 years = $200k annual sales
Comparable operating margin (PepsiCo) = 12.5%
$25k EBIT

Sign me up.

Nov 14, 2012
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Nov 14, 2012

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