Why is it more productive to work deeper than longer

4 min readFeb 15, 2022

Have you heard of the “10,000-hour rule”?

This concept was invented by K. Anders Ericsson and popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers: The Story of Success. The concept is that it takes at least 10,000 hours of focused practice to become an expert at anything.

Often, when people see this figure, it seems to them that this is about the number of hours spent, but this is not at all the case. The secret of success lies in the quality of hours spent. Erickson said that it is worth practicing 4–5 hours, but is there anything certain in this world? Thus, you need to spend from 3 to 6 hours on the chosen case daily, in accordance with your capabilities.

There are even studies that many prominent personalities followed this rule and really achieved success. This was written by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang in his 2016 book, “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less.” In the book, he dispels the myth that the harder we work, the more we get.

Here is his quote: “Rather than working super long hours, they maximized the amount of depth of focus time they had per day,” he said, “and really protected that and organized their day so they could put in about 4 or 4½ hours of really intensive deep work.”

  1. Check duty cycles

Work in parts to give your brain a rest. You can try the Pomodoro method: you work for 25 minutes, then rest for three to five minutes. After four such blocks, you take a half-hour break. !Be careful, you may be more focused on the timer than on the job! Choose the duration of the blocks according to your capabilities, they do not have to be 25 minutes.

Schedule breaks. Rest after each block and don’t forget your lunch!

It is advisable to plan in advance what you will do during breaks so that you do not miss them.

Time slots can be distracting in and of themselves, so if you can work without them, you should.

This technique is not mandatory to use — it helps a lot in cases where it is difficult to tune in to work.

2. Think about non-work related things while relaxing

Giving your brain a rest, you allow it to calmly put everything on the shelves. The creative or subconscious mind doesn’t stop working while you’re standing in line at the store or walking your dog. This can lead to “moments of insight.”

Avoid working during breaks — take a walk! Because physical activity improves blood circulation and brain function. Talk to friends or colleagues. ! Remember, the main thing is not to think about work!

3. Get to know yourself better

Determine your most productive time and fence it off from external stimuli. You probably have certain times of the day when you are most productive. Set aside a few hours when you’re at your peak, choose what you’re going to do during those hours, and go into “no distraction” mode until you’re done. If possible, tell your boss and co-workers that you’re going to set aside those hours for focused work, and you’ll be doing other work at other times.

4. Maintain a sound sleep pattern

Experiment, study how many hours you need for cheerfulness during the day. Otherwise, lack of sleep will overtake you in the end. It’s simply impossible to do your best work when you’re sleep deprived. It harms your body, your mental health, the quality of your work, and brings you closer to burnout.

5. Limit distractions

Very relevant for open space. Deep work is impossible in an environment filled with distractions. Unfortunately, we are not multi-tasking and we need focus to get the job done well.

If you constantly switch from task to task, you will get less done, because the depth of immersion is lower. And you, on the contrary, need to immerse yourself and concentrate on the task.

Turn off as many notifications as you can, block out ambient noise, let everyone know you’re not to be disturbed, decide what you’re working on, and get down to business.

Many of us don’t know how to create a human-optimizing work environment that allows us to consistently do the best job we can.

The cult of the 80-hour work week and never-ending working hours is a consequence of our ignorance of ourselves. In fact, excessive working time has been shown to have the opposite effect of what is expected. The longer we work, the less we do and the lower the quality of our achievements. Something like the Pareto principle. So follow our tips and get more and more productive!




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