6 reasons why it’s more productive to work less

A while ago I had a piece in CEO Magazine (which I believe is published in Australia and New Zealand) offering “6 reasons why it’s more productive to work less.” I just saw tonight that the piece, which was behind a firewall when it first came out, is now available for free.

Today, overwork is the new normal. A 2015 survey by EY found that half of all managers worked more than 40 hours a week, and 39% were working more hours than in 2010. We treat rest as uninteresting, unimportant, and even a sign of weakness.

There are many reasons people feel the need to put in long working hours, and cultural norms that encourage overwork, but a small army of neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists and engineers have shown that overwork is counterproductive in the long term.

They’ve found that regular breaks, outside hobbies, holidays and sabbaticals, sleep, and even daily naps make you a better worker. Why leaders should pay more attention to rest, and encourage the people who work for them to embrace it, too.

Reading it now, some of it anticipates the issues I talk about in my forthcoming book SHORTER (US | UK). Odd how these ideas run around, only semi-recognized, until they turn into something!

2 thoughts on “6 reasons why it’s more productive to work less

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great piece. I’m a knowledge worker, with significant control over my schedule. My work is part managerial, and part creativity focused. I work 35 hours per week and do very well financially. I can’t help but feel guilty about how good I have it, so much so that it becomes a weight on one’s mental health. I know personally I don’t need 50 hours to do what I do, and targeted work has left me producing great results, however, when one views the way the rest of society handles work hours they can still feel like they aren’t doing enough.

  2. Jason says:

    I’m a knowledge worker who works 35 hours per week, and does very well financially. Short targeted work helps me produce great results, but I can’t help but feel some shame like I’m not working hard enough. I see others putting in 50 hours per week, and I feel like I should be doing the same, even though it doesn’t make sense for my job. It’s a dilemma a lot of knowledge workers I know deal with. It results in me thinking about work when I’m supposed to be resting.

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