Intriguing Ideas in Productivity

How do you get better? Here are some ideas:

To summarize these results:

  • The average players are working just as many hours as the elite players (around 50 hours a week spent on music),
  • but they’re not dedicating these hours to the right type of work (spending almost 3 times less hours than the elites on crucial deliberate practice),
  • and furthermore, they spread this work haphazardly throughout the day. So even though they’re not doing more work than the elite players, they end up sleeping less and feeling more stressed. Not to mention that they remain worse at the violin.

I remember a really interesting discussion (I think it was on reddit, but google has failed me) about how working ‘overtime’ (an ambiguous term, I admit, but stay with me) is a sign of a poorly designed work process.

Should there be such a thing as overtime? If you’re a doctor or lawyer or some kind of hourly-paid professional the concept is ambiguous. If you’re not paid hourly you’re paid for delivering some kind of completed project and the concept is even more ambiguous.

How about this?

Most of the time, a week in which I work 40 hours sucks. If I’m working on interesting things, 40 hours is not enough. If I’m working on boring things, 40 hours is far too many. Either way, not so fun. 40 hours is a compromise week in which I don’t actually get a lot of work done, but I’m probably stuck in the office a lot.

And there’s no question that even 40 hours at your desk yields something less than 40 hours of solid work. Work productivity ebbs and flows. If you work 0 hours one week and 85 the next, how much overtime have you worked?

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