by Joseph Weisenthal

Filed Under:
productivity, work

Why Being Plugged In 24/7 Doesn't Make It Easier To Get Your Work Done

from the rocks-on-the-riverbed dept

There have been several stories noting the fact that people have a hard time taking a break from work these days. Those people that are glued to their computers or Blackberries will typically argue that constant attention is a must, given the amount of work that they have to get done. But as Dan Markovitz astutely points out, people that are always plugged in are often no better at keeping up with work levels. He makes his point by drawing an analogy to manufacturing. If your factory is producing way more of a given item than you need, it's easy to ignore the occasional product defect. But if you're producing the exact amount the required by the market, then it's of utmost importance to reduce defects and operate efficiently. If you keep allocating extra hours to your work, there's no impetus to figure out what's going wrong and why work is taking up so much time. But by stepping away after an alloted time, you're forced to identify how your actual working hours could be made more productive.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Edmond Woychowsky, Jul 10th, 2007 @ 12:07pm


    What this doesn’t take into account is that an individual’s visibility is higher when they have to continuously fight fires. Someone that corrects the problem isn’t nearly as visible and is passed-over for raises and promotions. This I learned from experience, after having corrected issues so that everything would move smoothly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Dan, Jul 10th, 2007 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Visibility

    That sounds like the bane of the IT world. We are only truly successful when everything works 100%. Then people ask why we are needed if everything works so well and they don't need to talk to us day to day.
    It's like firing fleet mechanics because cars aren't breaking down as often. In truth, it is because they are doing so well on preventative maintenance. Then the same people wonder why the car fleet is having more issues after a few months of use and fewer mechanics.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Jul 10th, 2007 @ 1:10pm

    If your factory is producing way more of a given item than you need, it's easy to ignore the occasional product defect.

    Not only will the errors be ignored more easily but like comments 1 and 2 point out the errors will occur more often. If you work someone to hard and too often their performance will get sloppy becuase they are not getting the necessary downtime to recover from said hard day's work. In the short term staying connected 24/7 would seem like a great idea. You get to put in a little extra time to tidy things up a bit and get ahead of the game...until your boss notices this and decides to take advantage of your 24/7 connection. Next thing you know your workload has increased so much that now you have to work 24/7 just to keep from falling behind.

    That's not to say its all the bosses' fault either. A lot of these people who have those fancy Blackberries, PDAs, laptops, and other methods of constant connection will stay connected just for the bragging rights of owning some fancy tech and to put on the guise of "a vital employee that is so important that the company has to stay connected to her/him all the time."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Dan, Jul 10th, 2007 @ 1:33pm


    This is also known as Parkinson's Law:

    C. Northcote Parkinson, a British writer, formulated this rule: "Work expands to fill the time allotted to it; or, conversely, the amount of work completed is in inverse proportion to the number of people employed."

    Simply said: If you have an hour to do a 5-minute job, it will take an hour to do it. A large number of people accomplish less work than a smaller number of people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    anonymous coward, Jul 10th, 2007 @ 4:18pm

    some people brag about always being available.

    i brag about working from home, being rarely available, and spending the better part of my day in non-work activity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    workwork, Jul 10th, 2007 @ 4:19pm

    Part of the problem is that if you don't spend your off hours being visible then someone will step in who is willing to sacrifice their time. This opens up the possibility of being phased out due to lack of visibility to the people who make the decisions up top.

    It boils down to ... Are you willing to turn your job into your life or are you willing to step back and let someone eclipse you and possibly end up out of a job?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    anonymous coward, Jul 11th, 2007 @ 7:26am


    If my job could be "stolen" by someone that was willing to work more unpaid overtime than me, he/she can have the job...

    Remember, if you work just four hours a week of unpaid overtime, you just voluntarily cut your own salary by 10%.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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