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Do humans actually need breaks from working, physiologically? How much of this is a cultural construct? And if it is, can those assumptions be changed? Could a person be trained to enjoyably have 100-hour workweeks? (assume, if the book Deep Work is correct that you have max 4 hours of highly productive work on a domain, that my putative powerhuman is working on 2-4 different skill domains that synergize)

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4ChristianKl5moA normal programmer is working productively in the sense most people see "working productively". The proverbial 10x programmer on the other hand is much more productive even with the same number of productive working hours. The thesis of deep work is that there's much higher payoff to increasing quality of your work then quantity for a knowledge works. One of the assumptions you seem to be making is that the time not spend working is not productively used. Creative ideas often come when there's a bit of distance to the work while showering. Working 100 hours per week means that this distance is never really achieved and the benefits that get produced when your brain can process the problem in the background while your conscious mind doesn't interfere don't materialize. I think I remember from a YCombinator source that they would tell founder who tried to work 100 hours, that they need to get better about prioritizing and not try use working that much as the solution to their challenges. It's easier to discover that you are working at the wrong thing when you have breaks in between that give you distance that allows reflection.

I think you think I'm making assumptions I'm not. I agree with all these points – this is why the world looks the way it does. I'm saying, if there weren't the sorts of limits that you're describing, we'd observe people working more, more often.

2Matthew Barnett5moPerhaps not indefinitely, but I do think there are people like this already? There are some people who are much more productive than others, even at similar intelligence levels. The simplest explanation is that these people have simply discovered a way to be productive for many hours in a day. Personally, I know it's at least possible to be productive for a long time (say 10 hours with a few breaks). I also think professional gamers are typically productive for this much most days. I think the main issue is that it's difficult to transfer insights and motivation to other people.

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by DonyChristie 24th Jul 201929 comments