Let’s say we have a fictional construction company with a productivity metric called “Bricks per day”(BPD). Fred is one of the top performers, he consistently reaches 120BPD, and everyone is very happy with him.
Mike is the new guy, he’s been there for only 2 months, and his BPD never goes over 60.
At first glance it feels like Mike is working half as hard as Fred.
Let’s analyse their work, when Fred is done with a wall, it looks like this:
And when he isn’t building a wall, he literally throws bricks into a pile to keep the metrics up.
Meanwhile, Mike’s wall looks like this:
And when he isn’t laying bricks, he’s often seen having a snack or walking around the construction site.
Now, what if instead of a construction company this was an office, and instead of bricks these were hours, and we divided them by 10? 120BPD becomes 12 hours per day, and 60BPD becomes 6 hours per day, Fred’s 12 hours seem impressive, but it’s absolutely impossible for someone to remain productive for 12 hours, in fact, not even 8 hours.(This applies for tasks that involve any level of cognitive ability, actual brick laying has different dynamics than a creative job such as writing, coding, design, and even management).
When Fred realizes he cannot do more work, he throws the bricks into a pile, this would be the equivalent of browsing facebook for 90 minutes when you can’t focus anymore just so you’re not the first to leave the office. This means Fred is not only wasting company money on badly used hours, he’s also wasting hours of his life he will never get back.
But for a manager focusing only on the BPD/hours-per-day metric, everything seems fine, and they don’t understand why the walls keep crumbling down, so they make people “Work harder”, making everything increasingly worse.
Creative work is often very particular, someone with a technical background won’t be able to judge a designer, someone with a business background won’t be able to judge the quality of software, and vice-versa.
Don’t be a Fred, stop wasting hours you will never get back, work fewer, better managed hours and enjoy productivity you never believed you could achieve.
Stop using hours worked as a metric for productivity
This doesn’t only go for employers, employees always succumb to the unspoken pressure of being the first in and the last out, even in companies with flexible schedules. Learn to use your brain in the most effective ways possible, and completely change the way you work.
This isn’t easy as the “hard work” mentality is deeply ingrained into us all, but it doesn’t work. Burning yourself out isn’t worth it.
Life is meant to be enjoyed, and you can easily and seamlessly join your work and personal life.
If you think I’m full of shit, leave a comment below, I’m very open to feedback and will take any and all opinions seriously :)