Productivity ups and downs

I recently came across this post on productivity (thanks people who post links on Facebook). It’s not recent (now that I look at the date it was published) but it’s still very applicable.

In the post, there’s a pdf document (or powerpoint) on some common misconceptions about productivity and interesting facts. For example, did you know the 40 hour work week came about because of Ford (the car manufacturer Ford)? Or that studies since have show that for challenges that require more intellectual power, 35 hours is about the top limit before you start to erode productivity? I didn’t.

Although, interestingly, the department I work in seems to generally hire people (well undergrads and interns) for 35 hours a week. So maybe they knew about it…

But, the really interesting part (to me) was about how the more hours you work does not equal more productivity. Not that I didn’t really know this already. But, it was the graph they included, showing how at 60-hours a week, you increase for a bit, but then start to fall until you’re well below a 40-hour a week person.

In fact, I found this graph so interesting, I decided to chart my pomodoro counts per day. And see what they look like. Because, if you’ve looked at the graph at all, you’ll notice I did have a period of time where I went shooting up, but, since then I’ve just mainly be maintaining again.


Pomodoro Counts by Day

Pomodoro Counts by Day

As you can see, I fluctuate a lot. The black straight line indicates my average (5 a day – which is still higher than my goal of 30/week). The black curving line at the top was my attempt to sort of draw the larger ‘fluctuations’ of my productivity. Based on the graph’s general trends, as much as I could (without spending too much time on this – I do have real research to do, after all :P).

I’ve had three ‘bubbles’ of productivity so far, with 2 being the biggest by far. And, you can sort of tell I haven’t quite recovered from that huge push, as 3 isn’t very big, even though it’s been a couple of weeks. Which also sort of correlates with that document, because they talk about how recovery from a push usually takes as long (or longer) then the push.

It’d probably be interesting to add into that graph the time I put into other activities those days, that were grad school oriented, but not research oriented. So meetings and such. But I don’t have time to do that. At least not now. Maybe next week. 😉



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