This is addressed to my work wife, who needs to learn how to work less than three jobs at a time.
Although I have to admit that I’ve been ignoring my own advice recently—much to my own detriment (tired eyes, grumpy demeanor, depressed immune system), but I did it to myself and I did it because I thought I was capable of doing it. And I suppose I am…if I’m willing to sacrifice my ability to be efficient, effective, and fully-rested. Because after about the 5th hour of staring at the LCD screen I begin to enter a state of reduced cognitive function—i.e. I start to drool. Try as I might (and concentrate as I may), I simply cannot focus on an activity for more than a few seconds. And forget any kind of creative thinking: that ability is lost after about two hours.
I’ve come to realize two things (never mind that countless studies have already proved these things; apparently I have to experience my own stupidity firsthand to come to any conclusions):
- I can’t really be effective for more than about 5 hours a day
- I start to lose focus (and consciousness) after about 30 minutes of concerted concentrating
Recently I’ve been working about 12 hours a day. Call me insane. I completely agree with you. And for all that time spent carpal tunneling I’ve probably only added about two hours of actual productive time to my day.
In other words, it’s a bloody waste of time.
So why does corporate America still cling to the idea that the more hours we work the more productive we are? Why do they accept with open arms the evidence that a brighter workspace boosts productivity but reject, prima facie, the evidence that a 5-hour workday makes the most business sense? Are they really as dumb as I am?
Maybe it’s not just the corporate types. Maybe it’s the employees on the ground who fear all the ramifications of a 5-hour workday: less pay, fewer benefits, the possibility of having to pick up a THIRD job. Hell, some of them would do it just because they like to work. Of course, they’re insane.
The first company to adopt a 5-hour workday as their 1.0 FTE will revolutionize the economy. They will probably also go out of business. But the seed will be sown. And a whole host of ancillary benefits will ensue, not the least of which will be a social awakening. Studies (yes, more studies) have shown that people who work fewer hours, or who work jobs with flexible hours, are more involved in their communities, giving a whole lot more of themselves than the full-timers. In this case our country is analogous to our home: if we weren’t so wiped out when we got home we’d clean the place up a little more. At least fold the pile of clothes on the couch. Yes, work wife, I’m looking at YOU.