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    On not working too much

    Darwin Was a Slacker and You Should Be Too – Nautilus Magazine – Medium - "Many famous scientists have something in common — they didn’t work long hours"
    When you examine the lives of history’s most creative figures, you are immediately confronted with a paradox: They organize their lives around their work, but not their days.

    Figures as different as Charles Dickens, Henri Poincaré, and Ingmar Bergman, working in disparate fields in different times, all shared a passion for their work, a terrific ambition to succeed, and an almost superhuman capacity to focus. Yet when you look closely at their daily lives, they only spent a few hours a day doing what we would recognize as their most important work. The rest of the time, they were hiking mountains, taking naps, going on walks with friends, or just sitting and thinking. Their creativity and productivity, in other words, were not the result of endless hours of toil. Their towering creative achievements result from modest “working” hours.

    How did they manage to be so accomplished? Can a generation raised to believe that 80-hour workweeks are necessary for success learn something from the lives of the people who laid the foundations of chaos theory and topology or wrote Great Expectations?

    I think we can. If some of history’s greatest figures didn’t put in immensely long hours, maybe the key to unlocking the secret of their creativity lies in understanding not just how they labored but how they rested, and how the two relate.
    Then two notable 19th cy. British gentlemen, Charles Darwin and John Lubbock. Both of them were very productive, yet both of them had plenty of downtime in their days. The article then gets into discussion of scientists' productivity, because their productivity is relatively quantifiable, and because some scientists themselves have addressed that issue. Mathematician Henri Poincaré worked 10 am to noon, then 5 pm to 7 pm -- 4 hours a day. G.H. Hardy liked to work from 9 am to 1 pm -- also 4 hours a day. His colleague John Littlewood estimated that the most that a mathematician could productively work each day was 4 hours or maybe 5 hours.

    In the early 1950's, Illinois Institute of Technology psychology professors Raymond Van Zelst and Willard Kerr plotted number of articles as a function of hours in one's office. Rather surprisingly, it was a M-shaped curve, with the first peak at 10 to 20 hours per week. Working 25 hpw was only as productive as working 5 hpw, and working 35 hpw only half as productive as working 20 hpw. There was a modest peak at 50 hpw, then a decline, with 60 hpw researchers having very low productivity. Examining hours worked outside of one's office, they found a simple peak at 3 to 3.5 hours per day. For 6 days a week, this adds up to 4 to 6 hours per day.

    Several notable writers have also worked 4 to 5 hours per day. In the 1980's, Karl Anders Ericsson, Ralf Krampe, and Clemens Tesch-Römer discovered a similar pattern in violin students at a conservatory in Berlin. The best ones tended to practice around 4 hours a day, in bursts of 1 1/2 hours, separated by 1/2-hour breaks. They would often practice in the morning, take a nap in the afternoon, and then practice again in the evening.

    Malcolm Gladwell concluded from this and other studies that anyone very expert has done some 10,000 hours of practice. But he neglected to notice all the rest that came with it.
    This illustrates a blind spot that scientists, scholars, and almost all of us share: a tendency to focus on focused work, to assume that the road to greater creativity is paved by life hacks, propped up by eccentric habits, or smoothed by Adderall or LSD. Those who research world-class performance focus only on what students do in the gym or track or practice room. Everybody focuses on the most obvious, measurable forms of work and tries to make those more effective and more productive. They don’t ask whether there are other ways to improve performance, and improve your life.

    This is how we’ve come to believe that world-class performance comes after 10,000 hours of practice. But that’s wrong. It comes after 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, 12,500 hours of deliberate rest, and 30,000 hours of sleep.

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    Productivity is a function of doing effective work multiplied by time. Work smarter, not harder kind of thing.

    You need the capacity to do good work in the first place, but once you have that capacity rest and relaxation is just as important to doing good work as the work itself. After a while the mind fatigues and burns out, needing breaks like any other part of the body.

    There's also the story of the busy person who spends all of their time doing pointless tasks, giving the illusion of productivity, when they're not really accomplishing anything.

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    The Research Is Clear: Long Hours Backfire for People and for Companies Whatever causes it, workaholic managers demanding the same workaholism from their employees or workers trying to impress other workers, it does not work very well.
    There’s a large body of research that suggests that regardless of our reasons for working long hours, overwork does not help us. For starters, it doesn’t seem to result in more output. In a study of consultants by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, managers could not tell the difference between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to. While managers did penalize employees who were transparent about working less, Reid was not able to find any evidence that those employees actually accomplished less, or any sign that the overworking employees accomplished more.
    Overwork and the resulting stress can lead to numerous health problems, like impaired sleep, depression, heavy drinking, diabetes, impaired memory, and heart disease. It can also cause such trouble as absenteeism, turnover, and rising health insurance costs.
    If your job relies on interpersonal communication, making judgment calls, reading other people’s faces, or managing your own emotional reactions — pretty much all things that the modern office requires — I have more bad news. Researchers have found that overwork (and its accompanying stress and exhaustion) can make all of these things more difficult.

    Even if you enjoy your job and work long hours voluntarily, you’re simply more likely to make mistakes when you’re tired — and most of us tire more easily than we think we do. Only 1-3% of the population can sleep five or six hours a night without suffering some performance drop-off. Moreover, for every 100 people who think they’re a member of this sleepless elite, only five actually are. The research on the performance-destroying effects of sleeplessness alone should make everyone see the folly of the all-nighter.
    So it's a case of diminishing returns, getting less and less for each bit of effort.
    This is something business first learned a long time ago. In the 19th century, when organized labor first compelled factory owners to limit workdays to 10 (and then eight) hours, management was surprised to discover that output actually increased – and that expensive mistakes and accidents decreased. This is an experiment that Harvard Business School’s Leslie Perlow and Jessica Porter repeated over a century later with knowledge workers. It still held true. Predictable, required time off (like nights and weekends) actually made teams of consultants more productive.
    Why does overwork persist? Ignorance? Skepticism?
    Or it could be something stronger. Maybe when you combine economic incentives, authority figures, and deep-seated psychological needs, you produce a cocktail that is simply too intoxicating to overcome

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    Defining Crunch Mode
    "Crunch mode", also referred to as "crunch time," is the term used by those in the software development industry to describe working extra hours for extended periods of time in order to finish a project or meet a deadline. It is associated with management expecting employees to work 50, 60, 70, and sometimes even 80 hours a week for months on end.
    Crunch Mode: programming to the extreme - The Relationship Between Hours Worked and Productivity
    • Sleep Deprivation and Fatigue
    • Stress and Depression
    • Necessary Tasks and Recreation

    Crunch Mode: programming to the extreme - How is Software Development Different?
    I can't do it. The people I know who think they can do it can't do it either. We always ended up making bad mistakes that took a lot of time to clean up. We missed obvious architectural improvements that could have saved us days of work. We overwrote code and trashed data!

    ...
    The lead programmer on my current project works at least 60 hours every week (and has for years) and more than that about half of the time. He's in at 6:30am and usually leaves around 6:30 or 7:00pm and he NEVER takes lunch breaks. Towards the end of the week, any problem that he "solves" quickly usually requires at least a day or more to re-fix later on.
    Working more than 50 hours makes you less productive
    Research that attempts to quantify the relationship between hours worked and productivity found that employee output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours—so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours, according to a study published last year by John Pencavel of Stanford University. Longer hours have also been connected to absenteeism and employee turnover. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even has an entire website devoted to the effects of long working hours even if workers aren’t paid for this extra time. It’s not free, Pencavel points out.

    ...
    “At 35 hours, an additional five hours to the length of the working week has consequences for the effective labor input that are quite different from an additional five hours starting at 48 hours,” he writes.

    ...
    “The simple reality is that work, both mental and physical, results in fatigue that limits the cognitive and bodily resources people have to put towards their work,” said Ken Matos, senior director of research at the Families and Work Institute think tank. “When they are not thinking clearly or moving as quickly or precisely they must work more slowly to maintain quality and safety requirements.”
    Although some companies profess concern with work-life balance, it has to extend through the whole company in order to make it work.
    “There’s oftentimes a disconnect between the company mantra and the standards supervisors are holding their employees to,” he said. “For example, Company XYZ’s top exec comes out and says that he or she makes it a point to leave each workday by 5:30 pm and believes each of his/her employees should do the same. ... But if my immediate supervisor at Company XYZ doesn’t see value in that, then it is unlikely that I’ll have the freedom to routinely leave at a reasonable hour. It’s similar to the way companies will have ‘family-friendly’ policies such as flextime or work-from-home. The policy is there, but if your direct supervisor doesn’t allow you to use it ... it’s useless.”

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    Overwork, Underperform: Why More Hours Leads to Less Productivity - PEN Dec 2018 - Pensights | Performance Excellence Network How to avoid overwork:
    • Don’t let them work too hard or too long over long periods of time
    • Encourage – maybe demand – that your people to take their earned time off.
    • Set cultural expectations that encourage “down time.”
    • Encourage your people to take breaks during the workday, if the job allows.
    • Create a work environment that’s fun.


    Between being elected and starting work as a Congresswoman, US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) described how she was going on a self-care break for a week. Self-Care Is Vital, and Ocasio-Cortez Is Right to Prioritize It

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter: "I’m taking a few days to take care of myself before what is sure to be an eventful term.
    For working people, immigrants, & the poor, self-care is political - not because we want it to be, but bc of the inevitable shaming of someone doing a face mask while financially stressed./1 https://t.co/EWdWFmPwet" / Twitter

    noting
    Billy Freeland on Twitter: "Love @Ocasio2018’s honesty here about taking care of yourself, avoiding burnout, and challenging the misconceptions and double standards inherent in the idea of “working hard.” @AditiJuneja3 @SelfCareSundays https://t.co/Q328sXIQCj" / Twitter - she's now @AOC - that tweet has screenshots of her Instagram self-care discussions.
    “I believe public servants do a disservice to our communities by pretending to be perfect,” wrote Ocasio-Cortez. “A lot of campaigns are based on telling a ‘superhuman’ story and I respectfully disagree with that tactic... You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be 100% committed.”
    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Self-Care Confessional on Instagram Is as Relatable as It Gets - Vogue
    “I’m starting a week of self-care where I’m taking the week off and taking care of me,” Ocasio-Cortez explained on Instagram Stories, the social media platform the Congresswoman-elect has utilized to peel back the curtains on politics for her 1.1 million followers since arriving on Capitol Hill. “I don’t know how to do that, though,” she laughingly admitted before calling for suggestions. “I would appreciate any and all self-care tips, because sometimes people are like, ‘Top 10 tips for self-care: Go to Cancún!’ And I’m like, Is it a face mask? I don’t understand. I just don’t understand.”

    ...
    “For working people, immigrants, and the poor, self-care is political—not because we want it to be, but [because] of the inevitable shaming of someone doing a face mask while financially stressed.”

    ...
    “My mother was a housekeeper and worked herself to the bone so that I could go to college,” she explained. “She denied herself a lot—so I feel a lot of guilt thinking about taking a day off. [ . . . ] It’s not okay that women subconsciously perpetuate unequal burdens for generations, just because we’re made to feel guilty if we don’t. Notice how much of this guilt is self-reinforced and internalized via social norms.”

    ...
    “Before the campaign, I used to practice yoga 3-4x/week, eat nutritiously, read and write for leisure,” she wrote on Instagram. “[But] as soon as everything kicked up, that all went out the window. I went from doing yoga and making wild rice and salmon dinners to eating fast food for dinner and falling asleep in my jeans and makeup. We live in a culture where that kind of lifestyle is subtly celebrated as ‘working hard,’ but I [will] be the first to tell you it’s NOT CUTE and makes your life harder [in] the end.”

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    Campaigning was a LOT of work for her, and it would have been difficult for her to avoid that. She first had to get on the primary ballot, and that required collecting at least 1,000 signatures. Since many of them could have been invalidated for this reason or that, she took no chances and collected 5,000. Next was winning the primary election, and that required defeating Joe Crowley, the 20-year incumbent "King of Queens". He ended up spending over 10 times as much as she did, though for most of the campaign, he ignored her. She won by contacting a lot of unlikely voters and signing them up. The final phase was the main-election campaign. Although many of her district's voters are yellow-dog Democrats, she nevertheless did do a lot of campaigning.

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says She's Taking a Week Off for Self-Care
    After describing some of the self-care tips she's heard in the past (drink wine and watch Netflix, go to Cancun), she showed a photo of Amnesty International's signs for burning out, writing, "Self-care is important for activists because without we WILL burn out and walk away."

    She continued, writing, "Confession time: I am so bad at this. Even though our story exploded 5 months ago, I’ve been campaigning nonstop for two years: through multiple jobs, double shifts, morning commutes on the subway, etc."
    Caring for yourself so you can keep defending human rights - Amnesty International Australia - symptoms of burnout: anxiety, guilt, isolation, irritability, anger, sadness, pessimism, disappointment, numbness, fatigue/insomnia, lack of motivation, physical pain/sickness, compassion fatigue

    In the end, Ocasio-Cortez revealed she'd be spending her self-care time in upstate New York with some books, epsom salt, lavender oil, notebooks, pens, and music. But she's also opening up the conversation on Twitter; find even more suggestions and resources for self-care on her thread, here.
    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter: "So I’ve decided to take others along with me on IG as I learn what self-care even means and why it’s important.
    Feel free to comment here & share any resources or suggestions that have been helpful to you ⬇️" / Twitter

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    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez relies on lots of small donations, and she avoids "dialing for dollars" from big contributors, as she calls it. That enables her to get more work done. Paying her staff a lot of money enables them to quit extra jobs and do more work for her, despite the outrage from Fox News commentators.

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter: "Yesterday during recess @RepJimmyGomez and I did pushups in the committee room to get our heads back in the game 🤣
    I’m watching the video now and @RepRashida is just LAUGHING at us in the background 😂
    I fell off the workout wagon lately so this was a nice nudge to hop back on https://t.co/iFNCyWXDs8" / Twitter


    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter: "I’ve spoken previously about our office’s parental leave policy (12 weeks paid leave to ALL new parents - dads included).
    In the first 6 months of my term, two of my staff had babies and one more is expecting.
    Here’s how we’ve worked things out so far: https://t.co/9RuVvNa70n" / Twitter

    How Ocasio-Cortez Makes an 'Unusual' Parental Leave Policy Work
    Staffer Anita Eckblad:
    I was seven months pregnant when I joined the team and it was actually a great concern for me, the idea of joining the team and then after probably four to eight weeks, depending on when I delivered, leaving. The representative said to me, explicitly, “Listen, if you don’t want to take the job because of what the work will be or because of the substance, that’s fine. But if you’re not taking the job because you’re pregnant, I don’t accept that. We will find a way to make it work, we will find a way to make sure that we have talented people on our team that also have families.” She wanted to figure out how to make that possible.
    She conceded that AOC's office was sometimes short-staffed, but that other staffers could cover for those who were out.

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    People like AE and Darwin are working 24/7. There is no off button.

    A CEO of GM is on the job all the time. The issue is not pushing yourself to failure.

    It all depends on how you define work. Intellectual work on a hard problem can be as draining as physical work. I expect increased brain usage translates to more energy.

    Our idealized paradigm is you get in proportion to your efforts. What happens if everybody minimizes effort.
    Last edited by steve_bank; 08-17-2019 at 04:15 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    People like AE and Darwin are working 24/7. There is no off button. ...
    How is that supposed to be the case? How does one "work" while one is sleeping?
    Our idealized paradigm is you get in proportion to your efforts. What happens if everybody minimizes effort.
    Except that there is a *lot* of evidence of diminishing returns for more than about 50 hours per week.

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    From his bio AE worked out things in dreams. Tesla as well. AE credited an uncle with teaching him creative visualization as a kid.

    For people like AE it is not work, it is who they are.

    As materials engineer I worked with put it, you mean they pay me to do this stuff? My sentiment as well. Engineer was not a job title, it is what I became. I was not totally immersed and isolated form everything else, but I was always working. I was certainly not unique among my peers. For some it was simply a way to make money and support a family. For others it was a lifestyle of sorts.

    I never had a hobby or played games. The work and lifelong learning was satisfying without a need for diversion.

    Work related stress IMO is self induced.

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