Culture & Competency

6 Hours a Day on Your Great Work

During the Olympic Games last month I noticed three references to people doing their “great work” in 6 hours a day.

Michael Phelps swims for 5-6 hours a day, churning through 16 km of water. With winning 8 gold medals, he demonstrated some very successful outcomes for that training.

Hayden Roulston, the New Zealand cyclist who won 2 silver medals, is reported to cycle for 5-6 hours a day, and tear up a bit of road in that time. He too, achieved some successful outcomes for that work.

The third reference wasn’t to do with the Games per se, but was rather in a book I was reading at the time. Stephen King’s book, On Writing, talks about him spending 6 hours a day writing. After all, that’s what writers do … they write. And he’s written a lot … right?

So … three examples of people investing “only” 6 hours a day in their “great work”. Obviously everyone has other misc things to do each day … but it made me think these thoughts:

  • At what point does the quantity of work become detrimental to the quality of the work? Is less of the first better if more of the latter is delivered?
  • Can someone working 6 hours a day at high intensity achieve higher productivity than someone working twice as long at a lower intensity? When does mental exhaustion kick in?
  • Am I clear about what my “great work” is, and am I doing it consistently?

Your thoughts?

Categories: Culture & Competency