Doing LESS Can Make You a MORE Productive Attorney: Here’s the Science

In a previous post, we began debunking the notion that an overly busy attorney is a happy attorney—let alone a successful one. Lawyers who are too busy to enjoy life, by definition, are not enjoying life. The same holds true with any profession. Yet while productivity does lead to greater fulfillment, the science clearly shows our assumptions are wrong. Working more doesn’t make us more productive; in fact, it often makes us less so.

A Look at the Science

Harvard Business Review compiled a nice stack of research that clearly disproves the theory that long hours equal greater productivity. Some highlights of the studies:

  • Managers couldn’t tell the difference in output between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who pretended to do so.
  • Overworked employees cost companies money—in the form of lost work hours due to absenteeism and illness, employee turnover and rising healthcare costs.
  • Companies who limit employees’ work hours and require weekends off receive greater output from those employees during work hours.

The same principle holds true on a macroeconomic scale. Contrary to common belief, the United States does not work the longest hours of any nation in the world; in a study of 35 developed nations, in fact, the U.S. was slightly above the middle, according to the World Economic Forum.

However, what’s even more telling is the fact that the nations with the shortest work weeks tend to be the most productive. According to HowMuch.net Luxembourg is the most productive country per capita on earth—yet Luxembourg’s work week is the sixth shortest of the nations studied by the WEF. And if you begin with who has the shortest work week—it’s Germany, another one of the world’s most productive countries.)

The upshot: When we limit our work hours, and give ourselves enough rest during the down time, we tend to get as much or more done during those work hours than we do by working longer days!

What this means for you as an attorney is that when you follow a strategic plan, working less can actually make you more productive. If you’d like to know how to make your law firm more productive with less time input, we can help! Give us a call at (888) 207-2869.

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