By Bhawna


If you are working for an office job, you would have a time-interval of 8 hours in the work set by the office which can be 9 to 5, 8 to 4, and 10 to 6. When you are working from home, these working hours expand- you are still working at 7, sitting at your desk in between household chores, and checking emails before sleeping. These working hours tell a lot about our schedule of household chores, being with children, and sleep. They determine our leisure time and how often we get time to spend with our families. In this entire process, whats gets missing is the time for our own selves. 

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are placed around time spent at work. When you are at work during those eight hours, we don't need to be sitting at our desk the entire time, even if we are in the office. You might take coffee, or take a personal phone call. And probably sometimes you are just checking Instagram or browsing on the internet or doing some online shopping. 

As said by psychologists, for humans, concentrating on work for every minute of the eight-hour day is like impossible. But the question arises, how many hours should we actually devote to the work? What are others doing? What does psychological research say about it?

No matter what your intent is, or whether you are working from home or office, it is difficult to show consistency at work. We feel bad about it and there has to be a way out. 

Why do we work eight hours a day?


Keeping in mind the span of attention of human beings and other factors, why is it necessary to put in at least eight hours at work? Eight hours is not a figure that reflects how long a human being can pay attention, or the amount required to keep the economy running. It is a figure set by the system and it is correct. 

How productive are we, even?

25 Ideas to Stay Creative and Productive While You Are at Home

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Now that it is a world of technology and science, long work weeks should lead to amazing productivity, right? Not necessarily but. Some people work extreme hours. Especially in the pandemic and uncertainty, some people try to go above and beyond that 40-hour mark. The American ethos of toiling hard and getting ahead is commonly accepted. The idea of working to be the best employee, going to extreme levels, and rising above the rest, is a horrible idea. It will definitely lead to burnout. 

So what are we supposed to do at work?

Why the worst parts of work can't easily change - BBC Worklife

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Without discussing it, and unknowingly also, American office workers have agreed upon working half or two-thirds of a workday. We might be sitting at the work desk for more than eight hours of work, but we might not be doing eight hours of work. Being unproductive in America is seen as a sin than cruelty or disregard for others. 

We need to ask ourselves this: How long is the stretch that we can work on a task at a time and be completely focused on that task? And once we figure out this- which means half an hour or 45 minutes at a task- then we can implement workday break activities in between these heavy periods of attention span. We can never get like to the perfect number of hours that we need at work. It is always going to be a product of conflicting demands. It is important to be productive at work as much as you can. 

People can work for long hours also, but the quality of the work is affected by this. There are physical consequences also. 

Ways to increase productivity:

Set productivity goals

Transform your Employee Productivity with Proper Goal-Setting | by Sara  Pollock | Medium

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You have to set productivity goals. You can even write them. So, they should not be according to what the social media is showing. They should be according to what you feel and what you want out of a productive life at work. 

Break your day down into smaller chunks

Break down your day into smaller chunks. This can be task-wise or hour-wise. One way is the Pomodoro Technique. In this technique, you devote 25-30 minutes to a task as our attention span allows only this much time that we may employ at a particular task. Then you take a 5 -10 minutes break. You repeat the cycle 4 times and then you take a 20-25 minutes break. This technique allows you to comprehensively devote time to a particular task and you get enough time to complete a task and that too by scheduling breaks in between. 

Another technique is Eat the Frog Technique. In this technique, you do the most challenging part of your task at the first half of the day or at a time in which you are the most active. 

This could also mean that focus on your biggest tasks first rather than smaller tasks. This is important. Smaller tasks require lesser time so they should be done later. 

Set clear, achievable, attainable, precise, doable, simple, and realistic goals: goal setting is important


Very often we design goals that are vague and not clear. For example, a Goal like "Complete all the assignments today". This is a very unclear goal. Instead of this, you could write: "Complete answering to all the e-mails (or whatever task you have) before 5 pm. In this way, you are keeping a check on how much you are required to do, what you are required to do, and when that work has to be done. The goals should be doable also. They should not be something very fancy that cannot be achieved. 

Trust the small increments

You cant expect to change a habit overnight. Small and gradual changes can bring about a sea change in your productivity. Start with one strategy and keep adding more as you grow. 

Be accountable and answerable

It can be weekly check-ins with a co-worker. It can also be setting deadlines and adhering to them. Having to answer someone else can often get you going. 

How to monotask

To the best of your ability, you can set up an environment that encourages performing one task at a time. It is of course not realistic to devote hours to a single task. But even committing to monotask for five minutes can yield productive results. When we are juggling and grappling between different tasks, we tend to use most of the time in transitioning between tasks. So, focusing on one task at a time is important. 

Remove temptation

Remove temptation by stopping to check unrelated social media like Instagram while you are working on a task. Some workers even install certain anti-distraction apps like Self Control, Freedom, StayFocusd, and Anti-Social. These apps block access to the most addictive parts of the Internet for a specific time. 

Move out

7 Steps to Moving Out of an Apartment

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If you feel you are losing focus, get a brisk walk at the workplace or home, if you are working from home. It can lift your mood, reduce hunger, and make you pay attention more. 

How to overcome procrastination at work

Be accountable and answerable


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To combat procrastination, you should find an accountability partner. This can be a colleague whose role is to keep a check on you. The person you choose has to take his/her role seriously. And that means appreciating when you did good and expressing disappointment when you didn't achieve a goal. You can even set rewards and punishment rules. 

Stay on track


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Make To-Do Lists with clear, attainable, precise, achievable, simple, doable, and realistic goals. Stay on track and measure your performance. You can prep for each day in advance before you leave the workplace. It can be to set 5 to 8 goals that you would accomplish or attain the following day. 

How should be your work desk?

6 Things You Should Always Keep at Your Desk

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Reduce clutter as much as possible. Make sure that there are no piles of files lying on your table. It is important to remove clutter because psychologically you should not get distracted or too overwhelmed. The work desk should not be messy. Keep a check that the files are moving and not stagnant. Keep your desk clear and make sure you eat outside your desk. The same desk should not be allowed for eating also. But if it is in-between snacking, then it's okay. But you need to make sure that you don't snack too much in-between wok. 

Fight stress

Best way to fight Stress & Depression? | Dr. Vipul Tyagi

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There would be times when you would feel overwhelmed and there would be a fight-or-flight response. Reduce stress by doing deep breathing and if possible, mindful meditation exercises. Pay attention to your posture. This is especially important as most people have the wrong posture at work and this can significantly impact work productivity. 


There should not be any hard-and-fast rule to productivity. Productivity at work is subjective but there are of course some standards that productivity experts and psychologists have set that should be followed. Its only you who needs to set your productivity goals and they should be realistic enough.