People Often Work Weekends for the 'Productivity High'

Why would anyone work on the weekend? Turns out some people get a productivity high.

Some people like to take time from relaxing on the weekend to work. It sounds unthinkable, I know. Why would anyone work on the weekend? Well, researchers Francesca Gino and Bradley Staats found that some people get a high from being productive.

Gino writes for the Harvard Business Review that she began the study by asking a group of 500 employed individuals to reminisce and write about a time when they felt either “productive at work, very busy, unproductive, or not busy at all.” Gino focused on the participants that wrote about a productive time. She found that those people “reported feeling at their best and happy with life — more so than in any other condition. It is by feeling productive, these data suggest, that we believe we are making some sort of a difference in the world.”

Of course, this study doesn't mean people should drop their weekend plans to work. Staats headed up a separate study that shows, while some people may get pleasure out of their work, they still need to take a break — lest they want the quality of their work to suffer.

Staats, along with a group of colleagues, used three years of data that comprised of 4,157 caregivers from 35 hospitals in the United States. The team zeroed in on data concerning hand-washing rates throughout a 12-hour shift. At the beginning of that shift, caregivers tended to follow the hand-washing regulations, but as their shift went on, the rates went down by an average of 8.7 percent.

The researchers add:

“The decline in compliance was magnified on days when a caregiver’s work was more intense (e.g., when he or she saw more patients). Just as the repeated exercise of muscles leads to physical fatigue, repeated use of cognitive resources produces a decline in an individual’s self-regulatory capacity.”

So, while working on the weekend might feel nice, don't let it take up your entire time to recoup. One study suggests that after 49 hours of work in a week, productivity begins a sharp decline. Juliet Schor, a sociologist and economist at Boston College, goes further. She thinks that fewer hours in the workweek would allow people more time to meet their needs in a way to break away from market dependency:

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less
Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less

Harvard: Men who can do 40 pushups have a 'significantly' lower risk of heart disease

Turns out pushups are more telling than treadmill tests when it comes to cardiovascular health.

Airman 1st Class Justin Baker completes another push-up during the First Sergeants' push-up a-thon June 28, 2011, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Participants were allowed 10 minutes to do as many push-ups as they could during the fundraiser. Airman Baker, a contract specialist assigned to the 354th Contracting Squadron, completed 278 push-ups. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Janine Thibault)
Surprising Science
  • Men who can perform 40 pushups in one minute are 96 percent less likely to have cardiovascular disease than those who do less than 10.
  • The Harvard study focused on over 1,100 firefighters with a median age of 39.
  • The exact results might not be applicable to men of other age groups or to women, researchers warn.
Keep reading Show less

U.S. reacts to New Zealand's gun ban

On Thursday, New Zealand moved to ban an array of semi-automatic guns and firearms components following a mass shooting that killed 50 people.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Gun control supporters are pointing to the ban as an example of swift, decisive action that the U.S. desperately needs.
  • Others note the inherent differences between the two nations, arguing that it is a good thing that it is relatively hard to pass such legislation in such a short timeframe.
  • The ban will surely shape future conversations about gun control in the U.S.
Keep reading Show less