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«If you are trying to be focused and 'productive' for more than 30 hours a week you are probably working too hard. You should consider reducing the workload to become more effective and get more done» - http://programmer.97things.oreilly.com/wiki/index.php/Hard_Wo...
As a certain famous physicist said, "...but when do you think?" ‎- 9000
A horse can productively pull a cart for ~16 hours a day. Human brains have much less endurance, and start producing *junk* under too long loads. 30 hours a week of real mental work in the office sounds about right. You can probably squeeze a bit more for your hobby, though :) ‎- 9000
I'm talking about 30 hours a week (fixed above). That is, on average, 6 hours of honest thinking 5 days a week, for the benefit of your employer. A lot of office work requires minimal thinking. The numbers above are for programmers; they probably apply to other mentally heavy work, e.g. financial analysis of UI design. ‎- 9000
Meditative thinking for hours while mindlessly [insert your favorite pastime] is one thing. Being in a feedback loop while thinking, e.g. writing a bit of a program and running it every 5-15 minutes, is another thing, somehow more exhausting. The same may apply to drawing, drafting, etc, any activity where you have to output a bit periodically and test it against reality. ‎- 9000
^ What I meant is a loop like "imagine → draw or write → see how it looks and works → identify problems → repeat". You can do it totally alone, against the clock and entropy. ‎- 9000