Lights on at the office
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Linked – The Case for Downtime

This is something that I’m afraid the legal and technology industries just haven’t figured out yet. Think about it.

“In the article “Bring Back the 40-Hour Work Week”, Sara Robinson explains that working a 60-hour week does not get you 20 additional hours of productivity. The numbers are probably closer to 25-30 percent more work in 50 percent more time because by the ninth hour in a workday, you can only deliver a fraction of your usual capacity. With every hour beyond that, productivity levels continue to drop.

“Without adequate rest, recreation, nutrition and time off to just be, people get dull and stupid,” she writes. “They can’t focus. They spend more time answering e-mail and goofing off than they do working. They make mistakes that they’d never make if they were rested; and fixing those mistakes takes longer because they’re fried.”

How many lawyers and technical folks spend much of their work day in the office taking calls, sitting in meetings, putting out fires, etc.? When do they get the more substantive work done? After hours. Sometimes late at night, after the kids have been put to bed.

Do you really think clients are getting their best work at that hour? Seems to me that these studies show that work is getting done much less efficiently, with a higher rate of mistakes, and with much less creativity, simply because we are doing so much of it, and never recuperating from it.

Without the ability to recharge our brains, this will just go on, day after day, month after month, year after year. The work becomes a routine to go through, not an engaging endeavor. Without a true break from it, we will burn out. We just won’t notice because we’re still doing all the same things our colleagues do.

That could be because they’re burned out too, but as long as we all get paid, I guess we think that’s OK.

That’s fine if all you care about is getting paid. If you want more than that, downtime is a necessity.

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