GTD 2006.27: A 40 hour week

GTD 2006.27: A 40 hour week.

I know this is going to rub a lot of you the wrong way, but I come to the considered conclusion that a 40 hour work week, with explicit, limited, bouts of longer hours is more productive overall than the typical 60-70 hour work week.

Last year, I averaged about a 60 hour week, every week. This year, I've gotten that down to a 50 hour week, but I'm more productive. I need to push through and finish a couple of commitments, but I really expect to get down to a 40 hour week by the end of this month, and be still more productive.

It comes down to productivity. Workers can maintain productivity more
or less indefinitely at 40 hours per five-day workweek. When working
longer hours, productivity begins to decline. Somewhere between four
days and two months, the gains from additional hours of work are
negated by the decline in hourly productivity.
In extreme cases (within
a day or two, as soon as workers stop getting at least 7-8 hours of
sleep per night), the degradation can be abrupt. – From an article by Evan Robinson, at International Game Developers Association site.

For me, there are two components of this productivity increase:

  • Improved problem solving. I've noticed that my solutions – either when coding, writing or working with people, have markedly improved since my 40 hour a week or bust push started. This is true productivity: improving the outcome without increasing (and often decreasing) the time needed to produce the outcome.
  • Fewer mistakes coding. 100 lines of crap is still a hundred lines of crap. The better I code, the fewer bugs I create for myself down the road, the more productive I am overall.

So, today's Getting Things Done tip is to at least do a bit of research on why a 40 hour week is more productive, and perhaps, start thinking about how to make that happen in your own life. []

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