Some of you work constantly. You don't add up the hours because you really don't want to. So let me add them for you: if you're teaching a full load and taking work home each night, you're working anywhere from 50 to 70 hours per week. If you add weekends onto that, it could be as high as 80.
Whether you do this because you love it or because you don't know how to do it any other way, I'd like to share some science with you.
The following comes from one of the best books I've read in a while: Morten Hansen's Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More.
“Does working long hours increase performance? The prevailing ‘work harder' mindset presumes that it does, but the truth is more complicated. We analyzed the relationship between weekly hours worked and performance among the 5,000 managers and employees in our study. As the ‘Squeezing the Orange' chart reveals, working longer hours enhances performance, but only to a point. If you work between 30 and 50 hours per week, adding more hours on the job lifts your performance. But once you're working between 50 and 65 hours per week, the benefit of adding additional hours drops off. And if you're working 65 hours or more, overall performance declines as you pile on the hours.Morten Hansen, Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More, p. 46
To illustrate this, Hansen uses the image of a squeezed orange. When you take an orange and squeeze it, at first you get lots of juice. But then eventually there comes a point where you're squeezing it super hard and only a little juice is coming out.
And eventually, you need a vice to get more juice out, and the juice that comes out at this point is super pulpy and gross.
Hansen's orange — and the ambitious survey data behind it — just illustrates something that we've known for a long time. Constraining our working hours to 50 or less per week is a smart way to force our hand at prioritization.
But Dave, teaching's an important job. We can't just turn it off.
Yup. And that's why we've got to.
Dr Jim Nichols says
My motto is “Work smarter not harder” . This is an important aspect of limiting the toll on us as teachers. There are so many strategies available to us that can reduce unproductive hours. Requires more pre-planning,but pays off in improved learning and reduced teacher hours.
Ica Rewitz says
“And eventually, you need a vice to get more juice out, and the juice that comes out at this point is super pulpy and gross.”
This is me right now. What is coming out is “super pulpy and gross.” I am trying desperately to manage my time better, but I have not found anything that’s made a huge difference yet.
Consider Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Work Week online course. I learned about it from Dave here—and it was a huge help to me. Well worth anything I gave to it.
Ica R. says
Thanks for the advice. I actually took her course in 2018 and have been revisiting it this year. It hasn’t made much of a difference for me. I know a lot of people have found value in it, but I still struggle with it all.
Dave Stuart Jr. says
Ica, here’s to an upcoming year where you and I don’t end up as vice-mashed pulp 🙂