It sounds counter-intuitive, but one of the easiest ways to boost your productivity is to simply limit the number of hours that you work. This was highlighted in an incident last week, when I spent the week fixing bugs. Watch the video, or read the summary below for more...
- I spent last week fixing software bugs
- There was one particularly tough bug that I spent all afternoon on, and still had no solution. I really felt like keeping on working until I got it working
- However, I forced myself to stop, go for a walk with my wife & child, and do something else in the evening
- The next morning, the solution came to me and I had the bug fixed in 20 minutes
- Based on past experience, I could have kept working till late in the evening, gone to bed extra tired and frustrated, and still found a solution the next morning. I would have worked hours longer, and my evening would be ruined. This has happened so often in the past
Why Does this Work?
- Your brain gets tired, just like your muscles. However, your muscles tend to have a strong burning sensation when they need a break. Your brain, on the other hand, may feel tired, may feel like there's a "brain fog," but you feel like you can keep going
- The "brain fog" is an indication that you're not able to think as clearly, leading to poor decision making. This is especially bad if you're doing work such as programming that requires intense thinking and decision making
- You can sustain long hours briefly, but not on a regular basis
- Limit your work hours per day and week. The optimal number of hours varies from person to person, but tends to be round 37-38 hours. Definitely cut down if you're regularly working 50+ hours per week
- Also take regular breaks throughout the day. Get up out of your chair and walk around or do something else for a bit