You don’t outwork your competitors by working more hours. The number of hours you are “on the clock” is not a measurement of work, unless you do manual labor. You can get to work early and turn the lights on, and stay late and be the last to leave the parking lot and still be outworked and out hustled.
The amount of time you spend in your inbox is not a useful measurement of work either. You can work desperately to keep on top of every communication and request and still fall behind on your real work. In fact, time in inbox is an indicator of ineffectiveness. There should be a KPI for time in inbox, and that time should be proof of time mostly wasted.
The number of meetings you attend isn’t a useful measurement either. You know that many of the meetings you attend subtract from your real output, with the exception of client meetings. Most of the meetings you attend aren’t held to make a decision, and most are only information sharing, much of the information being better suited for some other format.
That fact that you are busy or that you are being paid doesn’t mean that you are working. While you are at work a lot of hours, in the inbox, attending meetings, and taking care of things that are urgent, your competitor is focused big outcomes.
The only way to not be outworked is to produce outcomes that are aligned with your highest priorities and your highest goals. A lot of other tasks are necessary, but they aren’t going to move you forward. Not being outworked requires that you do the work that matters, and that you do less of the work that doesn’t.
Right now, somewhere, there is someone who is attempting to outwork you. You are the only one who can stop them. Make big choices.