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大幅減少工作量都有哪些好處?

The compelling case for working a lot less
大幅減少工作量都有哪些好處?

When I moved to Rome from Washington, DC, one sight struck me more than any ancient column or grand basilica: people doing nothing.

當我從華盛頓特區搬到羅馬后,比起古老的羅馬柱和宏偉的教堂,還有一番景象更加吸引我的注意:這里的人總是無所事事。

I’d frequently glimpse old women leaning out of their windows, watching people pass below, or families on their evening strolls, stopping every so often to greet friends. Even office life proved different. Forget the rushed desk-side sandwich. Come lunchtime, restaurants filled up with professionals tucking into proper meals.

我經??吹嚼蠇D人從窗戶探出身來,望著下面的行人,或者一家人在傍晚漫步街頭,時不時停下來與朋友問好。就連辦公室的狀態也截然不同。人們不會坐在辦公桌旁匆忙吃個三明治了事,而是會享受真正的午餐,餐館里聚滿了享用正餐的專業人士。

Of course, ever since Grand Tourists began penning their observations in the seventeenth century, outsiders have stereotyped the idea of Italian ‘indolence’. And it isn’t the whole story. The same friends who headed home on their scooters for a leisurely lunch often returned to the office to work until 8pm.

當然,自從歐洲上層階級的年輕人17世紀開始記錄自己的游歷見聞以來,外人便一直對意大利的"慵懶"理念懷有偏見。但這有些以偏概全。那些騎著踏板車回家享受休閑午餐的人,往往也會回到辦公室工作到晚上8點。

Even so, the apparent belief in balancing hard work with il dolce far niente, the sweetness of doing nothing, always struck me. After all, doing nothing appears to be the opposite of being productive. And productivity, whether creative, intellectual or industrial, is the ultimate use of our time.

即便如此,這里的人們顯然還是相信,應該在努力工作和安逸閑適之間達成某種平衡。這種理念令我頗為觸動。畢竟,無所事事似乎與生產率背道而馳。而無論是通過創造力、知識還是工業技術來提高生產率,最終都要投入時間。

But as we fill our days with more and more ‘doing’, many of us are finding that non-stop activity isn’t the apotheosis of productivity. It is its adversary.

但當我們在日常生活中塞進越來越多的事情后,很多人卻發現,不停地工作非但不利于提高生產率,反而會適得其反。

Researchers are learning that it doesn’t just mean that the work we produce at the end of a 14-hour day is of worse quality than when we’re fresh. This pattern of working also undermines our creativity and our cognition. Over time, it can make us feel physically sick – and even, ironically, as if we have no purpose.

研究人員發現,如果我們一天工作14小時,那么在即將結束時的工作質量顯然比不上精力充沛的時候。不僅如此,這種工作模式還會破壞我們的創造力和認知能力。久而久之,我們就會感覺身體不適——具有諷刺意味的是,這甚至會令我們感覺毫無目的。

Think of mental work as doing push-ups, says Josh Davis, author of Two Awesome Hours. Say you want to do 10,000. The most ‘efficient’ way would be to do them all at once without a break. We know instinctively, though, that that is impossible. Instead, if we did just a few at a time, between other activities and stretched out over weeks, hitting 10,000 would become far more feasible.

《可怕的兩小時》(Two Awesome Hourse)的作者喬希·戴維斯(Josh Davis)認為,可以把腦力工作想象成俯臥撐。比如,如果你想做1萬個俯臥撐,最"高效"的方式是一次性做完,中間不休息。但我們本能地知道這不可能。相反,如果我們一次只做幾個,中間摻雜其他活動,分成幾個星期做完,要達到1萬個的目標就會更加可行。

“The brain is very much like a muscle in this respect,” Davis writes. “Set up the wrong conditions through constant work and we can accomplish little. Set up the right conditions and there is probably little we can’t do.”

"從這個角度來講,大腦很像肌肉。"戴維斯寫道,"如果環境設置不當,總是一刻不停地工作,最終就只能完成很少的工作。如果環境合適,可能就沒有多少完成不了的事情。"

Do or die

非做不可


Many of us, though, tend to think of our brains not as muscles, but as a computer: a machine capable of constant work. Not only is that untrue, but pushing ourselves to work for hours without a break can be harmful, some experts say.

但我們很多人往往認為大腦跟肌肉不一樣,反倒更像是電腦:機器可以一刻不停地工作。專家認為,這種觀念不僅不對,甚至會因為不停地工作而給自己帶來傷害。

“The idea that you can indefinitely stretch out your deep focus and productivity time to these arbitrary limits is really wrong. It’s self-defeating,” says research scientist Andrew Smart, author of Autopilot. “If you’re constantly putting yourself into this cognitive debt, where your physiology is saying ‘I need a break’ but you keep pushing yourself, you get this low-level stress response that’s chronic – and, over time, extraordinarily dangerous.”

"如果你認為可以隨意延伸精力和生產率,那顯然是錯誤的。這只能弄巧成拙。"《自動駕駛》(Autopilot)的作者安德魯·斯瑪特(Andrew Smart)說,"如果你讓自己不斷陷入認知負債,你的生理機能就會告訴你,'我需要休息。'但你還是不斷逼迫自己,把這種低水平的應激反應變成長期問題——久而久之,就會變得非常危險。"

One meta-analysis found that long working hours increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 40% – almost as much as smoking (50%). Another found that people who worked long hours had a significantly higher risk of stroke, while people who worked more than 11 hours a day were almost 2.5 times more likely to have a major depressive episode than those who worked seven to eight.

一項元分析發現,長時間工作會將冠心病風險提高40%——幾乎與吸煙相同(50%)。另有研究發現,長時間工作的人中風的風險會大大提高,每天工作11小時的人抑郁發作的風險幾乎是每天工作7至8小時的2.5倍。

In Japan, this has led to the disturbing trend of karoshi, or death by overwork.

在日本,這甚至引發了令人不安的"過勞死"。

If you’re wondering if this means that you might want to consider taking that long-overdue holiday, the answer may be yes. One study of businessmen in Helsinki found that over 26 years, executives and businessmen who took fewer holidays in midlife predicted both earlier deaths and worse health in old age.

如果你想知道這是否表示你應該考慮享受一個遲到的假期,答案或許是肯定的。一項針對26歲以上的赫爾辛基商人進行的研究發現,中年假期較少的高管和商人更短命,年老時的健康狀況也更糟。
 

過勞死在日本十分普遍,以至于受害者的家庭每年可以獲得政府提供的大約2萬美元的補助

Holidays also can literally pay off. One study of more than 5,000 full-time American workers found that people who took fewer than 10 of their paid holiday days a year had a little more than a one-in-three chance of getting a pay rise or a bonus over three years. People who took more than 10 days? A two in three chance.

假期也可以帶來經濟上的回報。一項針對5,000名美國全職員工進行的調查發現:全年帶薪假期不到10天的人3年時間內獲得加薪或獎金的幾率略高于三分之一;而帶薪假期超過10天的人呢?幾率大約是三分之二。

Productivity provenance

生產力來源


It’s easy to think that efficiency and productivity is an entirely new obsession. But philosopher Bertrand Russell would have disagreed.

人們很容易把效率和生產率當成一種全新的癡迷。但哲學家伯特蘭·羅素(Bertrand Russell)卻有不同觀點。

“It will be said that while a little leisure is pleasant, men would not know how to fill their days if they had only four hours’ work out of the 24,” Russell wrote in 1932, adding, “it would not have been true at any earlier period. There was formerly a capacity for light-heartedness and play which has been to some extent inhibited by the cult of efficiency. The modern man thinks that everything ought to be done for the sake of something else, and never for its own sake.”

"有人會說,雖然空閑令人愉快,但如果一天24小時只需要工作4個小時,人們就不知道該如何填補空閑了。"羅素在1932年寫道,"早期并非如此。以前的人有一種無憂無慮玩耍的能力,但已經在一定程度上因為對效率的崇拜而被抑制了?,F代人認為,所有事情都應該考慮其他方面的利益,但卻從來不考慮自己的利益。"

That said, some of the world’s most creative, productive people realised the importance of doing less. They had a strong work ethic – but also remained dedicated to rest and play.

盡管如此,全世界最有創造力和生產力的一批人還是意識到少工作的重要性。他們都有很強的職業道德——但同時也很重視休息和娛樂。

“Work on one thing at a time until finished,” wrote artist and writer Henry Miller in his 11 commandments on writing. “Stop at the appointed time!... Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.”

"一次性把事情做完。"藝術家兼作家亨利·米勒(Henry Miller)在他的11條寫作戒律中寫道,"在預定時間停止!……保持人性!多見見人,多出去轉轉,如果喜歡就喝兩杯。" 

Even US founding father, Benjamin Franklin, a model of industriousness, devoted large swathes of his time to being idle. Every day he had a two-hour lunch break, free evenings and a full night’s sleep. Instead of working non-stop at his career as a printer, which paid the bills, he spent “huge amounts of time” on hobbies and socialising. “In fact, the very interests that took him away from his primary profession led to so many of the wonderful things he’s known for, like inventing the Franklin stove and the lightning rod,” writes Davis.

就連美國國父本杰明·富蘭克林(Benjamin Franklin)這種勤奮的楷模,也會抽出大量空閑時間。他每天都花兩個小時吃午餐,晚上也會自由活動,而且會保證整晚的睡眠。他并沒有像打印機一樣一刻不停地工作,而是把"大量時間"用在業余愛好和社交活動上。"事實上,那些工作之外的興趣讓他得以通過很多有趣的東西為人所知,例如發明了富蘭克林爐和避雷針。"戴維斯寫道。

Even on a global level, there is no clear correlation between a country’s productivity and average working hours. With a 38.6-hour work week, for example, the average US employee works 4.6 hours a week longer than a Norwegian. But by GDP, Norway’s workers contribute the equivalent of $78.70 per hour – compared to the US’s $69.60.

即便是從全球來看,一個國家的生產率和平均工作時長也沒有明顯的相關性。例如,美國員工平均每周工作38.6小時,比挪威高出4.6小時。但從GDP來看,挪威員工平均每小時貢獻78.70美元,美國只有69.60美元。

As for Italy, that home of il dolce far niente? With an average 35.5-hour work week, it produces almost 40% more per hour than Turkey, where people work an average of 47.9 hours per week. It even edges the United Kingdom, where people work 36.5 hours.

崇尚休閑的意大利呢?這里的勞動者每周平均工作35.5小時,但卻比每周工作47.9小時的土耳其人平均每小時的產出高出近40%。甚至連平均每周工作36.5小時的英國也比不上意大利人。

All of those coffee breaks, it seems, may not be so bad.

由此可見,多喝幾杯咖啡休息一會兒沒有什么不好。

Brain wave

腦電波


The reason we have eight-hour work days at all was because companies found that cutting employees’ hours had the reverse effect they expected: it upped their productivity.

我們之所以每天工作8小時,是因為企業發現,減少員工的工作時間反而能夠出乎意料地提高生產率。

During the Industrial Revolution, 10-to-16-hour days were normal. Ford was the first company to experiment with an eight-hour day – and found its workers were more productive not only per hour, but overall. Within two years, their profit margins doubled.

在工業革命期間,每天工作10到16小時是勞動者的常態。福特是第一家嘗試8小時工作制的公司,結果發現,他們的員工不僅每小時的生產率得以提升,整體的生產力也有所提高。在兩年時間內,他們的利潤率翻了一番。

If eight-hour days are better than 10-hour ones, could even shorter working hours be even better? Perhaps. For people over 40, research found that a 25-hour work week may be optimal for cognition, while when Sweden recently experimented with six-hour work days, it found that employees had better health and productivity.

如果8小時工作制好于10小時工作制,那么進一步縮短工作時間是否會帶來更好的效果?有可能。研究發現,對于年過40的人來說,每周工作25小時或許對認知能力最為有利,而當瑞典最近嘗試6小時工作制時,也發現員工的健康和生產率得以提升。

This seems borne out by how people behave during the working day. One survey of almost 2,000 full-time office workers in the UK found that people were only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes out of an eight-hour day. The rest of the time was spent checking social media, reading the news, having non-work-related chats with colleagues, eating – and even searching for new jobs.

人們在工作日期間的行為似乎也印證了這一點。一項針對英國近2,000名全職辦公室員工進行的調查發現,人們在8小時工作中,只有2小時53分能夠創造生產力。其余時間都用來查看社交媒體、閱讀新聞、跟同事閑聊、吃飯——甚至尋找新工作。

We can focus for an even shorter period of time when we’re pushing ourselves to the edge of our capabilities. Researchers like Stockholm University psychologist K Anders Ericsson have found that when engaging in the kind of ‘deliberate practice’ necessary to truly master any skill, we need more breaks than we think. Most people can only handle an hour without taking a rest. And many at the top, like elite musicians, authors and athletes, never dedicate more than five hours a day consistently to their craft.

當我們把自己推向能力極限時,集中精力的時間甚至會更短。斯德哥爾摩大學心理學家K·安德斯·埃里克松(K Anders Ericsson)等研究人員發現,當從事"刻意訓練"這種對真正掌握某種技巧十分必要的活動時,我們所需的休息時間超出自己的想象。多數人都只能連續進行1個小時。而頂尖音樂人、作家和運動員每天持續創作或訓練的時間從不超過5小時。

The other practice they share? Their “increased tendency to take recuperative naps,” Ericsson writes – one way, of course, to rest both brain and body.

他們還有沒有其他共同措施?他們"越來越希望通過小睡來恢復精力。"埃里克松寫道——這種方式顯然可以同時放松大腦和身體。

Other studies have also found that taking short breaks from a task helped participants maintain their focus and continue performing at a high level. Not taking breaks made their performance worse.

還有研究發現,如果在執行一項任務時能夠短暫休息,可以幫助參與者保持注意力,并不斷保持較好的表現。如果不休息,表現則會降低。

Active rest

主動休息


But ‘rest’, as some researchers point out, isn’t necessarily the best word for what we’re doing when we think we’re doing nothing.

但有研究人員指出,當我們以為自己什么也不做的時候,用"休息"來描述這時的狀態未必是最貼切的。

As we’ve written about before, the part of the brain that activates when you’re doing ‘nothing’, known as the default-mode network (DMN), plays a crucial role in memory consolidation and envisioning the future. It’s also the area of the brain that activates when people are watching others, thinking about themselves, making a moral judgment or processing other people’s emotions.

正如我們之前所說,當你"什么也不做"時,大腦就會激活一片名為"默認模式網絡"(DMN)的區域。該區域在規整記憶和設想未來的過程中發揮重要作用。當人們觀看他人、思考自己、做出道德判斷或者處理他人情緒時,這一區域也會被激活。

In other words, if this network were switched off, we might struggle to remember, foresee consequences, grasp social interactions, understand ourselves, act ethically or empathise with others – all of the things that make us not only functional in the workplace, but in life.

換言之,如果這個網絡關閉,你可能就很難記住事情、預見結果、展開社交互動、理解自己、遵守道德或者同情他人——有了這些,我們才能在職場和生活中游刃有余。

“It helps you recognise the deeper importance of situations. It helps you make meaning out of things. When you’re not making meaning out of things, you’re just reacting and acting in the moment, and you’re subject to many kinds of cognitive and emotional maladaptive behaviours and beliefs,” says Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, a neuroscientist and researcher at the University of Southern California’s Brain and Creativity Institute.

"它幫助你更加深刻地認清形勢。幫助你了解事情的含義。當你無法了解事情的含義時,你就只能從事當下的活動和反應,你會因為難以適應而在情緒上和認知上出現多種行為和信念。"南加州大學大腦和創造力學院研究員、神經科學家瑪麗·海倫·伊莫蒂諾-楊(Mary Helen Immordino-Yang)說。

We also wouldn’t be able to come up with new ideas or connections. The birthplace of creativity, the DMN lights up when you’re making associations between seemingly unrelated subjects or coming up with original ideas. It is also the place where your ‘ah-ha’ moments lurk – which means if, like Archimedes, you got your last good idea while in the bath or on a stroll, you have your biology to thank.

我們也無法設想新的想法,或建立新的聯系。當你把那些看似不相關的事情關聯起來,或者得出原創想法的時候,作為創造力來源的DMN就會點亮。當你恍然大悟的時候,這里也會點亮——例如,當你像阿基米德一樣在浴室或散步時想出了好點子,那都要感謝自己的生物構造。

Perhaps most importantly of all, if we don’t take time to turn our attention inward, we lose a crucial element of happiness.

最重要的或許在于,如果你不花時間把注意力轉向內部,就會失去重要的幸福元素。

“We’re just doing things without making meaning out of it a lot of the time,” Immordino-Yang says. “When you don’t have the ability to embed your actions into a broader cause, they feel purposeless over time, and empty, and not connected to your broader sense of self. And we know that not having a purpose over time is connected to not having optimal psychological and physiological health.”

"我們很多時候都在不求甚解地做事。"伊莫蒂諾-楊說,"當你沒有能力把自己的行為融入到更寬泛的緣由時,久而久之就會感覺漫無目的,空虛,失去自我。我們知道,長時間失去目標跟身心健康得不到優化有關。"

Monkey mind

分散思維


But as anyone who has tried meditation knows, doing nothing is surprisingly difficult. How many of us, after 30 seconds of downtime, reach for our phones?

但所有嘗試過冥想的人都知道,什么也不做其實非常困難。有多少人能忍住30秒鐘不碰手機?

In fact, it makes us so uncomfortable that we’d rather hurt ourselves. Literally. Across 11 different studies, researchers found that participants would rather do anything – even administer themselves electric shocks – instead of nothing. And it wasn’t as if they were asked to sit still for long: between six and 15 minutes.

事實上,這種感覺極不舒服,我們甚至寧肯傷害自己。這并非危言聳聽。在11項不同的研究中,研究人員發現參與者什么都愿意接受——甚至主動接受電擊——只要別讓他們什么都不做就行。其實他們被要求坐著不動的時間并不算太長:大約只有6到15分鐘。

The good news is that you don’t have to do absolutely nothing to reap benefits. It’s true that rest is important. But so is active reflection, chewing through an issue you have or thinking about an idea.

好消息是,你不必完全不做任何事情也可以收獲利益。休息確實很重要,但主動反思、認真思考同樣如此。

In fact, anything that requires visualising hypothetical outcomes or imagined scenarios – like discussing a problem with friends, or getting lost in a good book – also helps, Immordino-Yang says. If you’re purposeful, you even can engage your DMN if you’re looking at social media.

事實上,伊莫蒂諾-楊表示,任何需要進行形象化假設或者設想某個場景的事情——例如與朋友討論問題,或者沉浸在一本好書之中——都可以起到幫助。如果你有這種意識,甚至可以在查看社交媒體的時候與自己的DMN互動。

“If you’re just looking at a pretty photo, it’s de-activated. But if you’re pausing and allowing yourself to internally riff on the broader story of why that person in the photo is feeling that way, crafting a narrative around it, then you may very well be activating those networks,” she says.

"如果你只是觀看漂亮的照片,那就無效。但如果你停下來,讓自己在內心設想一個寬泛的故事,來解釋照片里的那個人為什么有那種感受,圍繞這個故事設想各種情節,這樣就可以很好地調動這些網絡。"她說。

It also doesn’t take much time to undo the detrimental effects of constant activity. When both adults and children were sent outdoors, without their devices, for four days, their performance on a task that measured both creativity and problem-solving improved by 50%. Even taking just one walk, preferably outside, has been proven to significantly increase creativity.

想要消除持續不斷的活動產生的負面影響,并不需要花費太多時間。如果成年人和孩子不攜帶任何設備一起出門4天時間,他們在執行一項任務時表現出的創造力和解決問題的能力都會提升50%。即便只是一次散步,最好是在戶外,也可以大幅提升創造力。

Another highly effective method of repairing the damage is meditation: as little as a week of practice for subjects who never meditated before, or a single session for experienced practitioners, can improve creativity, mood, memory and focus.

另外一種修復破壞的有效方法就是冥想:對于從未進行過冥想的人來說,只需一個星期練習一次,而對于有經驗的練習者而言,只需要一次冥想,便可提升創造力、情緒、記憶力和注意力。

Any other tasks that don’t require 100% concentration also can help, like knitting or doodling. As Virginia Woolf wrote in a Room of One’s Own: “Drawing pictures was an idle way of finishing an unprofitable morning’s work. Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.”

其他不需要100%關注的任務也可以起到幫助,例如織毛衣。正如弗吉尼亞·伍爾芙(Virginia Woolf)所說:"畫畫是一種慵懶的方式,可以幫助你毫無意義地度過一個早晨。但有的時候,正是在慵懶、白日做夢的過程中,才能讓隱藏的真理浮出水面。"

Time out

暫停一下


Whether it’s walking away from your desk for 15 minutes or logging out of your inbox for the night, part of our struggle is control – the fear that if we relax a grip for a moment, everything will come crashing down.

無論是離開辦公桌15分鐘,還是整晚關閉收件箱,我們擔心的都是控制力——我們害怕的是,一旦我們放松一會兒,一切都會瓦解。

That’s all wrong, says poet, entrepreneur and life coach Janne Robinson. “The metaphor I like to use is of a fire. We start a business, and then after a year, it’s like, when can we take a week off, or hire someone to come in? Most of us don’t trust someone to come in for us. We’re like, ‘The fire will go out’,” she says.

詩人、企業家、生活教練珍妮·羅賓森(Janne Robinson)認為,這完全錯誤。"我喜歡用火來打比方。我們創造了一家公司,一年之后,我們能不能離開一個星期,讓別人來接管?多數人都不信任外人。我們覺得,'火會熄滅。'"她說。

“What if we just trusted that those embers are so hot, we can walk away, someone can throw a log on and it’ll burst into flames?”

"我們能不能相信,余燼溫度很高,我們離開一下,別人只要往上面堆放木料,火就能著起來?"

That isn’t easy for those of us who feel like we have to constantly ‘do’. But in order to do more, it seems, we may have to become comfortable with doing less.

對于那些感覺應該不停做事的人來說,這并不容易。但為了多完成一些事情,我們似乎必須首先習慣減少工作時間。
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