Patience Schell reminds us that we might want to reconsider longer hours if we actually want to do good work:
Some years ago, I heard that a colleague characterised me as “someone who didn’t work weekends”. This description was not meant as a compliment. It’s true that I make a concerted effort to keep something approximating normal working hours of 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. But I haven’t always worked like this. As a postgrad, I anxiously counted my hours and consulted with fellow students, worried that I wasn’t spending enough time at my desk. Eventually, I allowed myself one full day off weekly. When I became a lecturer, I stayed in the office until seven or eight in the evening, in part imitating the working patterns of my new colleagues, and continued to work weekends. Yet when I reduced my hours at the desk some years ago, my productivity did not decline. Instead, my mindfulness to follow regular hours means that my productivity is the same as or even greater than it was before, when I worked 50, 60 or whatever hours it was per week.
After this change, I began to wonder about my own working patterns and to think more generally about work and specifically about academic work. We certainly don’t join this profession or hope to become academics for fame or fortune. We join because we’re insatiably curious about something and we love to learn – there’s something that we need to know about and we won’t stop until we’ve solved the puzzle. With that sort of desire pushing us, it’s no wonder many of us work long hours.