Does Less Work Make You More Productive?

People like to say that common sense is not so common; an obvious play on words denoting that sometimes people overlook that which should be obvious. But sometimes that which seems obvious is incorrect. Sometimes common sense is wrong. The earth is a sphere despite that when we overlook the horizon, it seems to come to an end. Similarly, working fewer hours can yield greater productivity. This principle can extend to the workplace, high school and college campuses. Of course, that should not be taken as an excuse for laziness. This is rather an analysis of what can yield more productivity and less laziness.

Statistics Do Not Lie

This concept is not just an abstract philosophical thought experiment, like a “What if?” scenario that will never be practiced. There is enough data that we may yield robust conclusions about the nature of a hard day’s work. Countries such as Italy and Russia require 8.7 and 9.7 hours of homework per week, and respectively rank 25th and 13th in their education system. The United States ranks 17th and requires over 6 hours of homework. South Korea and Finland rank 1st and 5th, respectively, requiring just under three hours of homework per week. So, it makes a lot of sense that the overburdened students require some assignment help from time to time so that they can cope with the heavy burden. It is better this way because they will learn in a proper way if they have someone guiding them with their assignments and homework

One might be inclined to argue that this point is guilty of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, which is to say that correlation does not equal causation. After all, the objector may say, some countries require only three hours of homework and rank poorly in their overall education system. That may be the case. But nations such as South Korea and Finland still demonstrate that there is a possible model of less work and greater productivity. When it is applied correctly, students will be required to spend less time working and yet be as intelligent as other nations that require more work.

Getting Burnt Out

Life can feel too cyclical when you do not have any time to yourself. After you finish your workday, you will come home, eat, go to sleep and then wake up to start the next day. There is really no joy in your career because you are burning the proverbial candle at both ends. On the other hand, when you have time to yourself to spend with your family or on your hobbies, then you will not feel overwhelmed during your workday and will be more likely to output a quality product.

A similar point can be made with high school and college students. When they are overloaded with homework, they are less likely to put the effort that they would need to acquire better grades. They will feel mentally exhausted. Ten hours of studying and homework every week will leave the young mind crippled, unable to perform at their full potential. Ironically, studies reveal that when students have a four-day school week as opposed to a five-day week, they will be more likely to retain information, concentrate in class and will be less stressed about the prospect of going to school.

Fewer Disciplinary Actions

Young people will handle stress differently than adults. An adult may plummet into despair, feeling as though their life is futile and they feel stuck in their situation. This is certainly not an ideal situation. But one may argue that the result of a student feeling stressed out could be worse. When a student feels stressed out, they will begin to act out. Their behavior in class will become increasingly radical.

But schools that have four-day weeks show better behavior from their students. When they have more time to unwind from all of their homework, they will be able to pursue their extracurricular interests. They are also less likely to skip class. Similarly, when an adult has a shorter workweek, she will be less likely to call in, to feel helpless, and more likely to thrive in her environment.

Diligence certainly does pay off. That cannot be denied. But when an individual is in a system in which they have to push themselves harder than they need to, eventually the quality of their product is going to decrease. People need to have the opportunity to take time for themselves. When they get back to the job or to homework, they will be more motivated and less stressed.3

Infographic Source: Ozicare (