Over at Fortune.com, I have a piece on where the point of diminishing returns comes with work. Clearly working 1 hour per week is not enough to do a bang-up job in most lines of work, and working 168 hours (the total number of hours in a week) isn't going to fly either. Such a sleep-deprived person would be non-functional, not to mention smelly, due to a lack of showering. The optimal point must be somewhere between those two, where previous hours help productivity a lot, and additional hours don't help much. So where is that point?
I throw out a few ideas for Fortune readers, including some from the study of Italian CEOs I wrote about here a few weeks ago, and some thoughts from the head of a 65-person consulting firm, who says she works almost exactly 40 hours a week. It was still enough to double her revenue from 2009 to 2010!
I have been trying to figure out where the point of diminishing returns is for me. Like Melissa Gerstein, the Moms and the City producer I quote in the Fortune piece, I do worry I'm below it. There is always more outreach I could be doing to promote my books and this blog, not to mention articles I could be pitching and writing, speeches I could be drumming up and so forth. I could be doing more writing, but also the "inefficient" networking that fills the pipeline — not to mention reading other people's stuff to improve my own writing! I am always working on being better about planning my workdays so those hours are used well. I know I spend too much time on email, so it's an ongoing challenge. I think my point of diminishing returns is about 50 hours per week, and I'm working closer to 45 on a good week. But I take comfort from time use surveys knowing that many people claiming 60-hour workweeks are working closer to the 45 I am anyway. So when you take the bragging out, 45 hours is a pretty good week.
How many hours do you work per week? Where is your point of diminishing returns?
(photo courtesy flickr user Earls37a)