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.