Study Space – Hour by Hour

This article was originally published June 29, 2012, in issue 2025.

Does it ever seem as though the secrets of life can be narrowed down to a formula? Success is 99 per cent perspiration. Eating right plus getting exercise makes you lose weight. Do this, get that.

It sounds reasonable, right? If you don’t put in the time, you can’t expect to get results. And yet It’s missing something significant, and that omission might affect your productivity at home, work, and school.

At the risk of harping on a truism, quality wins out over quantity every single time.

Recently I came across a fascinating Harvard Business Review piece that applied the quality vs. quantity question to an area that needs it badly: the workplace. As the article notes, the current model of employment presumes that your worth as an employee is determined by your hours; after all, That’s what your wage is usually based upon. But the author suggests that this is deeply flawed.

Not to say that your boss doesn’t want top-notch work. But inevitably, when managers equate work with time, they lose the soul behind the effort, destroying the creative spark and consequently, productivity: ?By focusing on hours worked instead of results produced, they let professionals avoid answering the most critical question: ?Am I currently using my time in the best possible way??? This makes professional employees, the article claims, learn to ?use their time inefficiently.?

When we re-enter the educational world from the workforce, It’s hard not to carry with us these hardwired concepts, ill-suited as they may be to personal or professional studies. Because just as more hours spent at work don’t necessarily equal excellent product, neither do more hours spent studying.

Frequently students follow a strict schedule: two hours to study, then a break. Another hour, another few minutes to relax. This places the focus on hours spent studying, which is good in one way, but it also means that we will never ask ourselves whether we’re using those hours well.

We always manage to fill up the time we have, whether It’s many hours or just 20 minutes. If we’ve got all the time in the world to finish a task?or even just half a day?chances are we’ll take that time. But if we focus on end product over hours, It’s likely that we’ll work faster?and better.

Time is precious. Let’s use it well.