Working from nine to five may be the norm, but it’s never been a picnic. Seriously, did you ever perk up on a Sunday night and think, “Wahoo! Tomorrow I get to start racking up another forty hours!” Of course not, because putting in forty hours (or forty hours plus) a week isn’t for sissies. If it were, we wouldn’t need weekends and vacations to recuperate.
But the news gets worse. Researchers recently turned up some pretty crazy consequences related to long hours and cognitive performance.
The 40+-hour week gets almost everybody down, but as long as you’re still working, chances are you’re stuck with it. Then again, maybe not—at least, not if you’re over 40. See, experts from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research recently released a study suggesting over-40 folks should be working fewer hours per week, and for good reason.
The Melbourne group compared the number of hours people like you work with the way they performed on psychological tests measuring short-term memory and concentration. Guess what? A 25-hour (approximately speaking) work week boosted psychological performance, while working more hours/week had a negative impact.
Translation: Three days would be the best possible work week for folks at this particular stage of life.
Sure, those over 40 need mental stimulation. What they don’t need is too much of that good thing, because too much hurts thinking, attention, and memory. Interesting side question: How does this new information relate to the ever-increasing retirement age?
Overachievers may have it the worst.
In the study, folks who routinely worked 60+ hours a week scored lower on cognitive performance than people who didn’t work, period!
Perhaps not surprisingly, this research has met some resistance. According to economics Professor Geraint Johnes, of Lancaster University, in his interview with the BBC, because “the research looks only at over-40s, [it] cannot make the claim that over-40s are different from any other workers.”
In other words and technically speaking, the research can only talk about over-40s if some under-40s are included in the test sample. Who knows? Maybe longer work weeks affect them, too.
Bottom line, it’s still safe to say over-40s bring the most brain power to work when they only have to bring it less than 25 hours a week. Sounds like a plan, right?
Show this article to your friends and family! Seriously, your over-40 friends need to know what’s what!