Sunday, May 24, 2015

Quality Over Quantity

This past week in American Studies, while discussing the book The Great Gatsby, the topic of American ideals and themes and things that are inherently "American" came up. One was the topic of work. Specifically, how much work Americans do. 

People in America work more hours per week and year than people in other countries. According to the International Labour Organization, each American works on average "137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers." How very American! Why do we as a nation work so much more than people in other countries? 

As it turns out, were doing it wrong. Although Americans have this notion that working longer hours will eventually pay off in some way, working too much has negative effects. A study conducted by Dr. K. Anders Ericsson shows that what your parents say is right: quality trumps quantity. In his study, Dr. Ericsson and his colleagues studied violin players. They wanted to know what the excellent violinists were doing differently. It turns out they were practicing for shorter amounts of time. Ericsson and his team concluded that it is more effective to work harder for shorter amounts of time, rather than work extremely long hours. The successful people are leaving work early! 

So really, why are Americans working such long hours? 

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