Focusing intently in short bursts of time is the key to excellence - as is leaving work at a humane hour - reports a new study published in the Psychological Review.
Swedish scholar K. Anders Ericsson suggests successful people work hard in brief, allotted chunks of time - they don't peck away at the task for eight hours plus.
Dr. Ericsson and his colleagues studied a group of musicians to find out how the "excellent" players practice.
The violinists who practiced intensely in 4 hours got more done than others who toiled at it for 7 hours.
A study graphed the best performers' hours of productivity, which occurred before noon and again after 4 p.m. These violinists set goals for their work sessions and took scheduled breaks.
Ditto for famous authors, according to the study:
"While completing a novel, famous authors tend to write only for four hours during the morning, leaving the rest of the day for rest and recuperation. Hence successful authors, who can control their work habits and are motivated to optimize their productivity, limit their most important intellectual activity to a fixed daily amount when working on projects requiring long periods of time to complete."
So focus hard for four hours today. Your boss should understand when you skip out at noon, right?
What's your working style: quality or quantity?