Photo: Flickr/Alan Cleaver
If you’re working 55 or 60 hours a week, you’re wasting your time.Sara Robinson at Alternet has written up a phenomenal history of the 40-hour work week.
Here’s the bottom line. She writes:
“Adding more hours to the workday does not correlate one-to-one with higher productivity. Working overtime is unsustainable in anything but the very short term. And working a lot of overtime creates a level of burnout that sets in far sooner, is far more acute, and requires much more to fix than most bosses or workers think it does. The research proves that anything more than a very few weeks of this does more harm than good.”
The one exception is overtime, and only in very short sprints when you need to get something critical done.
She explains that hundreds of studies through the 1930s-60s showed that industrial workers had eight hours of good work in them.
But it’s actually even worse for “knowledge workers” in white-collar jobs. They actually have fewer good hours in a day than manual laborers (six hours vs. eight hours). After churning out those six hours of hard mental work, your brain clocks out and you’re pretty much useless, says Robinson.
Plus, knowledge workers are greatly affected by lack of sleep. Losing one hour of sleep per night for a week causes a “level of cognitive degradation equivalent to a .10 blood alcohol level.”
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