On a day that is commemorated as the May Day at countries across the globe, in 1926, a multinational automaker company was now known as the Ford Motor adopted the 8 working hours a day in its policy.

They adopted a 5-day, 40-hours a week policy for its workers, increased the minimum wage, also reduced the workweek. Since then, worldwide manufacturers followed Ford’s lead. And not long after, Ford’s policy became the standard practice.

But is 8 hours (or more) of working hours really effective?

Measuring the effectiveness of working hours

Nowadays, how long we work is barely important. Instead, it’s how effective and how much work was done during those hours that counts.

If we are applying the concept of ultradian rhythm, our minds can focus on one given task for 1.5-2 hours. It should be followed by 20-30 minutes break.

Thus, don’t schedule your tasks into a straight 8 working hours line (or a couple of hours for one task). Chop it into what can you do in a 90 minutes session. This method is also practiced by Adam Khoo is his approach to studying.

Justin Gardner has once published his study that our ability to focus has two distinct processes, namely:

  • Sensitivity enhancement is when you take all of the information and focus on filtering the information that needs your attention. At the same time, eliminating the irrelevant ones.
  • Efficient selection is where our tasks begin. It’s when you enter the flow zone of mind, as named by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

The conclusion of Gardner’s study is the classic advice of stop multitasking and eliminate distraction. As always, it’s easier said than done.

How you improve your working hours: in a nutshell

  • Schedule your tasks into a 90 minutes session: Each task should be followed by at least 20 minutes break. Never schedule plenty of works at once. It’ll hinder your ability to concentrate.
  • Set the deadline: If you have it fairly difficult to focus on even one task, try to set the priority for each of them. Setting up a reward for the tasks you have done is also a good method you can try.
  • Plan your rest… to rest: How many of you are planning to rest, but when the time comes you don’t rest at all? Make sure you actually rest at the break time, plan it. What do you like: reading, napping, or snacking? Go with whatever works for you.
  • Isolate yourself from technology: In the activity peak (during the 90 minutes session), depart yourself from any notifications. Be it e-mails, chat messages or unimportant calls. Set your phone on silent and don’t allow any tech notifications distract you. You can check them at the break time.

Resources: 1, 2, 3, image