Via Digg or Delicious or somewhere, I discovered John Wesley’s speculation on not necessarily working eight hours a day:
After a couple hours of intense work, energy levels drop and workers downgrade to less demanding tasks like responding to email and tinkering with existing creations. Towards the end of the cycle, the mind is so cluttered and drained that workers resort to Ã¢â‚¬Å“work related activitiesÃ¢â‚¬Â that appear productive but donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t contribute to the bottom line. The afternoon cycle is similar but the productivity peak isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t as high. For different people the peaks and valleys will vary, but overall IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d estimate only 3-4 hours a day could be classified as highly productive.
I agree with John’s central thesis–that a consecutive, eight-hour workday is antiquated, and doesn’t map very well to knowlege workers’ activities. Frankly, I never work more than three or four hours at a stretch. Some days I work five hours total, and some days I work ten, but it’s almost never consecutively.
This schedule works for me because I have a short attention span, and I think it keeps my brain fresher. It also enables me (or at least enabled me, back in Canada) to go see matinees in the afternoon.
I could work for eight hours straight every day, but I think I’d be less productive. I remember when I worked as a technical writer, four o’clock would roll around and most days I’d feel pretty spent. Maybe I just have a low tolerance for work?