According to a study conducted by Dr. K. Anders Ericcson and published in the Psychological Review, the key to great success is not plugging away 10 or 12 hours a day, but working harder in short bursts of time.
Timothy Ferriss probably carried it to an extreme in his New York Times bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek, but 4-hour work days seem to be more productive for famous authors and excellent musicians.
Shorter work days seem to play a crucial role when the level of concentration needed to be productive is high and projects require long periods of time to complete — such as writing a novel or learning to be a musical virtuoso.
The study, however limited in scope, is a useful reminder that using hours to measure productive contribution makes little or no sense with many types of work. While compliance issues certainly make hourly pay rates an easy and appealing option to adopt, when possible employers should look for other ways to compensate people that more directly reflect the value of their contributions to the enterprise.
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