It’s About Working Hard, But Not Too Hard

Breaks, vacations, and slacking off get more done than overtime does by keeping people alert and focused.

Suit_in_ScubaPeople who complain about presidential vacations should get out more. Indeed, they might be better workers for it. The science of productivity tells us breaks matter more than overtime.

The end of August concludes another month the media spent exhuming the debate over the White House’s travel plans. This criticism ignores the scientific evidence that shorts breaks and even long vacations have serious, measurable benefits for productivity for everybody. If we want a better president, we shouldn’t condemn White House vacations. Maybe we should legislate them.

Americans are notorious busy bees. A 2010 survey indicated that the average American accrues 18 vacation days and uses only 16. The average French worker takes more than twice the vacation time. To some, this statistic encapsulates the difference between American and European workers. We’re productive. They’re lazy. In fact, it might say the opposite. Europeans understand that breaks improve workplace efficiency. We mistakenly believe that more hours will always increase output, while ignoring the clear evidence: The secret to being an effective worker is not working too hard.

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Source: Derek Thompson | The Atlantic