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Tony Schwartz is the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything. Become a fan of The Energy Project on Facebook and connect with Tony at Twitter.com/TonySchwartz and Twitter.com/Energy_Project.
Two people of equal skill work in the same office. For the sake of comparison, let's say both arrive at work at 9 am each day, and leave at 7 pm.
Bill works essentially without stopping, juggling tasks at his desk and running between meetings all day long. He even eats lunch at his desk. Sound familiar?
Nick, by contrast, works intensely for approximately 90 minutes at a stretch, and then takes a 15 minute break before resuming work. At 12:15, he goes out for lunch for 45 minutes, or works out in a nearby gym. At 3 pm, he closes his eyes at his desk and takes a rest. Sometimes it turns into a 15 or 20 minute nap. Finally, between 4:30 and 5, Nick takes a 15 minute walk outside.
Bill spends 10 hours on the job. He begins work at about 80 percent of his capacity, instinctively pacing himself rather than pushing all out, because he knows he's got a long day ahead.
By 1 pm, Bill is feeling some fatigue. He's dropped to 60 percent of his capacity and he's inexorably losing steam. Between 4 and 7 pm, he's averaging about 40 percent of his capacity.
It's called the law of diminishing returns. Bill's average over 10 hours is 60 percent of his capacity, which means he effectively delivers 6 hours of work.
Nick puts in the same 10 hours. He feels comfortable working at 90 percent of his capacity, because he knows he's going to have a break before too long. He slows a little as the day wears on, but after a midday lunch or workout, and a midafternoon rest, he's still at 70...