Poll: Working Late

Daniel Lemire has a new blog post arguing that working long hours is stupid. This collided with Bee’s Backreaction post on what keeps physicists up at night, included in this morning’s Links Dump.

This got me to thinking about academic work habits, which led to the following poll:

A bonus follow-up question, that I won’t bother putting in poll form, is: How long should your subordinates spend working, continuously, on a difficult problem?

7 thoughts on “Poll: Working Late

  1. No fixed time for me; just work until I catch teh dumb. That could be an hour or two, then go off and work on something less demanding until the brain unclogs, or it could be all night if things are humming along.

    So I voted for “ooh shiny”.

    — Steve

  2. I’ve gone all night maybe a few times to get something working at the beamline, but at some point safety becomes a concern. I have coworkers who have been told they must get sleep, or be denied access. This is now rare since budget cuts have taken us from 24 hours/day of synchrotron light to only 14.

  3. I may have an unfair advantage here having been in the Army. Yes, I’ve stayed up for days on end working on a “problem”, usually though it hasn’t been a thinking problem. Although I have been known to stay up for two days doing research for pet projects.

    Subordinates, it depends. At some point the diminishing returns means I would be better off sending them to get some sleep, and I mean a solid three or four hours, not a thirty minute catnap. But I’ll let them go a solid 28 – 30 hours before making them leave.

    After all, who am I to make them stop hurting themselves if they enjoy it so 😉

  4. children are good brakes to becoming workaholics. If we work too many long days in a row we dont see them or when we are do we are too distracted about our latest project to focus. Mine are 9 and 10 years old. Only a few more years in the house. Time to work a little less and focus more. When I travel I bring them along. Productivity and networking plummets but most colleagues understand.

  5. Depends on the project. If it is a pet project, I may stay up until I either solve it or until I can’t keep my eyes open.
    If it is at work, I stay up as long as I have to, considering I always have a deadline I cannot let pass, but I may pull 3 or 4 all nighters in a row with 2 or 3 hours sleep in between. I try to avoid getting to this point though. Work in such a state of mind is never the best

  6. Time is one characteristic but intensity is another. I work on some problems for years and spend about the same amount of time each day on the problem. Is that kind of regularity (periodicity?) the same as continuously?

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