Why Working Less Can Increase Productivity
Work More Produce More
There is a common ideology that has been circulated around society and that is the idea that the more we work, the more we get in return. Our input is directly proportional to our output. This logic likely stems from the ideologies we were taught from our school systems. The idea was to memorize a large amount of information and regurgitate it during a quiz or test. In order to improve the memorization process, the only thing we needed to continue was repetition.
While this may have held true for the idea of school work, this ideology only holds true for certain kind of jobs in the workforce. These jobs include: fast food workers, packagers, and other kinds of jobs that force you to do repetitive tasks. This ideology does not hold true for brain-intensive work. In fact, working more hours can even work against you.
The Law of Diminishing Returns
Think about the gym, for example, if you were to work out intensely for 1 hour and rest after that, your body would grow and perform at higher rates. However, if you were to work out for 2 hours, your body would not gain double the rewards, in fact, your body would soon go into a catabolic state.
The reality of the matter is that most brain-intensive work operates in a similar fashion. The brain is like a muscle in that it tires out after intense usage. At the point where your brain tires out is the point where the quality of the work you are producing begins to lose value exponentially.
The Law of Negative Returns
If continued even further beyond the point of diminishing returns your brain will begin to produce negative returns in which the work you produce actually backfires and damages the value you provide. If you are a salesman this is the point where your clients start to resent you, if you are a graphic designer, this is the point where you have done so many edits that the quality of the work begins to slip.
The Solution to Greater Results
Just like working your chest, back, or biceps, the brain is worked by taking on challenges too. But after an intense day of productive work, the brain becomes tired and requires rest. Rest does not include, spending the day on the internet or engaging in other brain stimulating activities. Rest should focus on relaxation to allow the brain to recover to operate even stronger the next time it is activated.
Single Purpose Focus
The best way to exercise is to focus on a single muscle group. This way you can maximize the output. The same theory can be made for the brain. The brain operates best in when focused on a single purpose.
So the next time that you are about to engage in work, figure out the single purpose of your work, block all distractions, work to the point of diminishing returns, and stop (usually 4-6 hours).