Do you work more than 40 hours per week?
What about more than 50 hours per week?
If you’re anything like I used to be, you probably have a hard time answering that question because the work day blends seamlessly with the rest of the day.
Some of us don’t even know what to call the part of the day when we’re not working. We just call it the “rest of the day,” and there isn’t enough of it to take notice.
It’s a sad reality, but somehow we’ve come to believe it’s not only okay to work all the time, but that successful people actually strive to put in endless work hours. Opportunity never sleeps, right?
As it turns out, opportunity does sleep.
It also takes breaks, and it knows when it’s time to turn work off. And it prefers if you do too.
Researchers have found that putting in all those extra hours of work, specifically over 50 hours, can end up being a waste of time from a productivity standpoint.
Here’s what the research folks say:
“Productivity drops immediately upon starting overtime and continues to drop until, at approximately eight 60-hour weeks, the total work done is the same as what would have been done in eight 40-hour weeks.” – IGDA
So if 60 hours is too much, how many hours per week should we strive for?
Another study found that when people worked more than 50 hours, output per hour started to fall. – Economist
So 50 hours is the cutoff according research. But what does that look like?
The short answer is, whatever works best. Whether it’s 6 am – 4 pm, 7 am – 5 pm, or 8 am – 6 pm, it’s going to depend on when you’re most productive. You can also break your workday into multiple shifts if you prefer.
If that sounds like it’s not enough time to get everything done, you might just need to change how you work in order to maximize productivity.
For example, studies have found that working for 1-2 hours then taking a 20-30 minute break keeps your brain fresh and enables you to accomplish more in less time. The fancy word for this is “Ultradian Rhythm“.
The point to all this is, your family and friends are probably right; you do work too much. 8-10 hours a day is reasonable, and you won’t get much more accomplished by working over that.
And let’s be honest, we’re going to push it a bit over the 50-hour mark on any given week. We’ll take a cut in productivity in order to push out a few extra hours on the weekend. So put in a few hours on Saturday to wrap up the week, but draw the line there.
DO give yourself at least a day a week to just rest (and it doesn’t have to be on Sunday). Turn it all off and spend time enjoying and living your live with your family and friends.
Do some yard work. Or, as crazy as it sounds, get a hobby.
And next time 5 o’clock creeps up and you think – “One more thing and I’m done…” – don’t do it. It’s scientifically not worth it.