Posted at 15:02 IST (last updated: Thursday, 30th October 2008 @ 08:14 IST)
I've really been thinking about the productivity of working hours. I am a firm believer that the number of hours of work shouldn't matter if the quality of effort put in is optimized as I explained in an article on 6-day working weeks. I am amazed at how much time can be wasted at the office. The potential for time-mismanagement is huge, considering how little work actually gets done in the most productive hours of the day - mornings and afternoons. I see no reason for anybody to put in overtime or staying back an extra hour without something really important to do. I actually think that even the busiest employee need not spend more than 6 hours a day at work provided time is managed properly. I see the lunch-break hour as the prime culprit in reducing working efficiency for the second half of the day. Most organizations tend to have a lunch break between 1 pm and 3 pm and it's during this time that people tend to relax a bit. Now I'm not denying the need for relaxation, but for two reasons a long mid-day break can really affect work quality and output. Firstly an hour-long gap tends to stop the momentum of work. Secondly the intake of a good meal late in the afternoon can slow one down considerably, both mentally and physically. I have found that an evening after a heavy lunch can be sleepy and dull. Creativity is at a lower ebb. Effectively we spend more time at work, but achieving less and having fewer hours of relaxation afterwards. To me, the solution is to have a good solid, wholesome meal in the mornings which keeps our energy levels up and work taking only short regular breaks. Cut out the lunch hour, have a light snack and leave early. The extra hour of relaxation after work is much more beneficial from every point of view. This is because we avoid the extra cycle of having to get back into the groove after lunch. The momentum of work is sustained and light snacks are enough to sustain energy levels. Light snacks and regular shorter breaks can do wonders as I've found out personally. I can also think of other reasons to have a heavy meal in the mornings. Food tends to get digested better when the metabolic rate is higher (as is common for most people) and the effective energy is spread over a longer period of time. If you're in the habit of taking a light morning breakfast and feeling very hungry by early afternoon and then consuming a heavy lunch which leaves you feeling dull afterwards, try to reverse the timing of your meals. It might just be the answer to improving your workplace productivity.