The 8-hour workday goes back to the Industrial Revolution. We used to put in 10 hour days before the unions demanded reduction and the Adamson Act got passed.
But now we've moved on from hand work to head work, which is mentally draining.
We are told to think all the time, pushing on the brain like we used to push on a machine. It's draining, made worse by the lack of time we get to step away.
Writes Morgan Housel:
“Tell your boss you found a trick that will make you more creative and productive, and they ask what you’re waiting for. Tell them that your trick is taking a 90-minute walk in the middle of the day, and they says no, you need to work.”
Rest almost never happens in knowledge-based jobs. Vacation is only granted maximum two weeks a year. We can't even take walks. We run our brains into inanition.
We feel fresh after vacation because we get to step outside the routine. Our operations only become clearer when we stop doing them and hit pause to reflect.
We can't gain perspective and think creatively when we're stuck in the day to day, moment to moment, grind. We need some time to be in solitude and think more deeply about our roles.
“the secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed. You waste years by not being able to waste hours.”
Make time to relax, unwind, and ponder. It may be the most important shift we do all day.