Sometimes it feels great to have worked your butt off for eight or ten hours straight. Sometimes (most of the time) it totally feels like crap.
The good news is that “effort” doesn’t really matter.
It’s dangerously easy to feel as though a 10-hour day spent plowing through your inbox, or catching up on calls, was much more worthwhile than two hours spent in deep concentration on hard thinking, followed by a leisurely afternoon off. Yet any writer, designer or web developer will tell you it’s the two focused hours that pay most—both in terms of money and fulfillment.
And in fact, in the 2013 book Daily Rituals, which looked at the work routines of 161 writers, composers, painters, choreographers, playwrights, poets, and more, almost nobody reported spending more than four or five hours a day on their primary tasks.
The takeaway: Sometimes more is not more. Or as 99u’s Oliver Burkeman says, “Remember that tiring yourself out—or scheduling every minute of your day with work—isn’t a reliable indicator of a day well spent. Or to put it more cheerfully: The path to creative fulfillment might take a lot less effort than you think.”