I have always believed that there are only so many hours in the day you are able to work productively on any given task. And by productively I mean that your work is actually usable and doesnt has to be re-done the next morning. Personally, when I start work at 830am and have an average busy day which just allows for an hour lunch max, I find my brain slowing down around 530pm and making mistakes. I have therefore set up a rule long time ago that everything I do after 5pm is a draft, to be reviewed the next morning before I send out. Still, I often feel guilty leaving work around 530/6pm when others are still at their desk beavering away.
Of course, project work, court deadlines and the end of financial year often requires longer hours and demand results outside these core hours. And funny enough, most of us cope with that kind of pressure and deliver. But what wears people down are regular long hours, till 7, 8pm at night or the regular Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Although we know that this is not what work-life-balance is supposedly all about, but we often cant help thinking that more hours also means more work done.
This is not the case, though. Apparently Ford Motor ran dozens of tests in the early 1900s to discover the optimum work hours for worker productivity. They discovered that 40h a week seems to be the optimum. Adding another 20 hours provided a minor increase in productivity, but after three to four weeks it turned negative.
Isnt that interesting and confirms what we have always secretly believed? I for once will from now on try to not feel guilty anymore when I leave before 6pm.