Deliberate Rest

A blog about getting more done by working less

Category: Overwork (page 1 of 3)

Why deliberate rest is important for learning and professional development

Yesterday I wrote about William Heneage Ogilvie’s essay “In Praise of Idleness,” in which he makes the case for the importance of “idleness” in the lives of doctors and surgeons:

Most of us have passed through… spells of hard conscientious work and through spells of idleness. In the first we have acquired knowledge; in the second we have built up wisdom. In the first we have been worthy workers. In the second we have made, or started the train that has brought us to, those personal contributions by which we hope to be remembered when we are dead. For the human mind which has been driven hard does its best work when the tension is outspanned and it is allowed to find the natural paths that shape themselves in idle periods….

For many of us the war [ed: both World War I and World War II, in Ogilvie’s case] has provided such a sabbatical break. We have worked hard even in uniform, but for long times we have remained idle. Then it is that we have discovered to our joy that the disconnected visions of our student days are all fiting into a pattern. Figuratively, we have sprung like Archimedes from the bath in which we have been dozing and have shouted “Eureka.”

Today I saw that Jocelyn Glei wrote about the relative benefits of practice versus reflection in learning and the development of skills. She draws on an article about the role of reflection in individual learning:

In this paper, we build on research on the microfoundations of strategy and learning processes to study the individual underpinnings of organizational learning. We argue that once an individual has accumulated a certain amount of experience with a task, the benefit of accumulating additional experience is inferior to the benefit of deliberately articulating and codifying the experience accumulated in the past. We explain the superior performance outcomes associated with such deliberate learning efforts using both a cognitive (improved task understanding) and an emotional (increased self-efficacy) mechanism. We study the proposed framework by means of a mixed-method experimental design that combines the reach and relevance of a field experiment with the precision of two laboratory experiments. Our results support the proposed theoretical framework and bear important implications from both a theoretical and practical viewpoint.

Yet few workplaces are good at supporting this, and as Glei notes, “taking time to reflect is not intuitive.” The article makes the same point:

Our empirical evidence shows that when given a chance to choose between accumulating additional experience with a task versus articulating and codifying the experience they have already accumulated, individuals largely prefer doing to thinking. The results of this study however also suggest that this is a sub-optimal strategy: participants who chose to reflect outperformed those who chose additional experience.

Nonetheless, the benefit of doing so are pretty clear.

This article shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone living in a post-Donald Schön reflective practitioner universe, though the original article’s mix of laboratory tests and fieldwork is pretty elegant, and I quite like how they take on the question of whether people intuit the importance of reflection versus action.

I see a very similar pattern in the discovery of deliberate rest by my subjects in REST: many are hard-charging, ambitious people who only discover the value of deliberately slowing down and taking rest seriously after almost burning out. When you’re chasing a Nobel prize or facing a deadline, it’s not self-evident that you should schedule time for deliberate rest: it looks like a sub-optimal strategy.

Unfortunately, many people who overwork and burn out assume that the key to success is just working harder, not learning how to use rest more strategically. It’s a bit like being a long-term value investor, rather than a day-trader: you have to be willing to accept some ups and downs, some short-term losses and less spectacular returns, on the belief that in the long run you’ll do better. And, one might add, in the belief that you’ll have a long run.

As Glei puts it,

In order to stop doing busywork and start doing our best work, we have to make a point of scheduling in regular time for reflection. We have to celebrate, appreciate, and analyze our past performances, so that we can synthesize what we’ve learned and apply that knowledge to take it up a notch next time.

We do our “most important work when” we let the mind “wander at its own pace round the paths over which it has been rushing”

I recently discovered an essay by the surgeon William Heneage Ogilvie titled “In Praise of Idleness,” which I found while looking for stuff on Bertrand Russell’s essay of the same name. This “Praise of Idleness” appeared in the April 16 1949 issue of the British Medical Journal, and talks about the importance of down-time in the development of physicians:

My thesis is the very simple one that the man who works hard and conscientiously does his most important work when he outspans his mind and allows it to wander at its own pace round the paths over which it has been rushing, and that science is advanced further in a shorter time by the informal chatter of a few like-minded friends over cocktails than by the formal exchange of papers or by any number of congresses.

(As you’d expect from 1949, the piece only speaks about men. But Ogilvie was giving a talk in South Africa, and mentions that it had taken five days via seaplane to get there from London— “I have once again enjoyed the pleasures of idleness, the armchair existence of a five-days flight in a Plymouth flying-boat”, he says— so it really was a different era.)

Anyway, this is the part that jumped out at me:

We can recognize among our students two types. At one extreme we have the overpowering enthusiast who attends all lectures and takes down every word. After a hurried meal he goes to the library and pores over a textbook til the time comes for a ward round, when he listens eagerly to every comment and again enters it in his book. At the other extreme is the footballer who strolls into the lecture a little late and does not really get into his stride as a listener til he has filled and lit his pipe and gets it drawing to his satisfaction. [Ed: The image of the athlete smoking is kind of anachronistic, too!] His notes are sparse, and at rounds he is attentive but not verbose. Yet when it comes to a practical task the second one approaches it with a common-sense outlook; when he is asked a question whose answer is not in the textbook he is able to see through the problem to its essentials and give an answer that may not be the right one but that embodies his personal experience; at examinations he beats his more studious fellow student, in the practicals at any rate, and when he goes into the world he makes a better doctor.

Most of us have passed through both of these phases, through spells of hard conscientious work and through spells of idleness. In the first we have acquired knowledge; in the second we have built up wisdom. In the first we have been worthy workers. In the second we have made, or started the train that has brought us to, those personal contributions by which we hope to be remembered when we are dead. For the human mind which has been driven hard does its best work when the tension is outspanned and it is allowed to find the natural paths that shape themselves in idle periods.

This aside is also kind of striking:

For many of us the war has provided such a sabbatical break. We have worked hard even in uniform, but for long times we have remained idle. Then it is that we have discovered to our joy that the disconnected visions of our student days are all fiting into a pattern. Figuratively, we have sprung like Archimedes from the bath in which we have been dozing and have shouted “Eureka.”

This may sound unlikely, but one of the first studies that established that the restorative properties of time away from work (like on vacation) are determined less by how long you’re away, than by how mentally detached you are from your job and normal life, focused on reservists in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Anyway, the advice remains sound, even in an era of jet travel and women professionals.

Esports and the rise of training facilities: Even professional gamers need breaks

(via zonetag) Sunday 1:19 pm 11/11/07
not the esports training center in the article

The Washington Post has an article about how esports franchises are starting to build training facilities for teams that offers some surprisingly useful lessons about work-life balance.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, esports is becoming a big thing in the gaming world, and in sports more generally. It took off as a professional, corporate activity in Korea in the early 2000s, and recently has expanded to the U.S. (In fact, some teams playing in the U.S. are from Korea [insert bad immigrants taking our jobs joke here]). If you’r not familiar with it, this video provides a good introduction to the business:

For a long time, many companies would set up “team houses in which players both work and reside,” but as aXiomatic Gaming CEO Bruce Stein explains,

When we formed the idea of a training center, it got [the players] out of training and living in the same environment…. We felt that was a little stifling. It didn’t give them a separation between relaxation and work. And it wasn’t the ideal setup for training with the coaches and the analysts. So, we built a facility.

Given that aXiomatic Gaming’s owners include owners or partners in two basketball teams, two baseball team, and two hockey teams, it’s not a surprise that they wanted to.

Picking up the spare
not really an esports training center

The center is like any other professional sports facility: there are playing fields, a film room for reviewing games, and a kitchen and chef.

What do the players think?

“I think this facility is insane…. Six years ago I was scrimming [practicing] out of like this tiny dinky house in Diamond Bar [in Eastern Los Angeles County], the cheapest possible place you could fit five people.

The coaches like it too.

Overall it fosters a more structured and work-focused environment compared to esports houses.

“Players would just wake up at 10:28 for a 10:30 morning and just crawl out of their beds to it,” assistant coach Jun “Dodo” Kang said, speaking about how it was in the gaming house.

Coach Nu-ri “Cain” Jang said, via translation, that, “Having living and working space in the same place makes it too relaxed for the players. . . . Separating that just helps players focus on being professionals. Like, you’re waking up and actually going to work.”

Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung, one of the Korean players, said the facility helps him stay more balanced.

We hear a lot about the benefits of being able to “blend” work and life, or professional and personal stuff, but there’s a big literature on the psychological and productivity benefits of work-life separation— of having really clear boundaries between work time and your work self, on one hand, and your personal life on the other.

For one thing, having time off is simply psychologically good for you. It gives you time to recover the mental and physical energy you spend at work. This is especially true for people who are in highly stressful jobs, or jobs that explode them to unpredictable, chaotic situations– ER nurses, doctors, and law enforcement are the obvious examples, but people who work in badly-managed offices can also benefit more from clear boundaries. Studies have found that people on zero-hour contracts, who can be ordered into the office on short notice, or are on call, have more trouble detaching from work, and their performance suffers over the long run. Having a physical distinction between work and home– like a training facility rather than a gamer house– goes a long way to enforcing those boundaries.

Predictable breaks and good boundaries between work and home life are good for short-term recovery, and for good long-term career development. There’s a reason people who discover what I call “deep play,” serious hobbies that are as engaging as their work, have more distinguished and longer careers than people who don’t: deep play gives them a degree of balance and control in their lives that they wouldn’t have otherwise. And people who are really ambitious, or get very involved in their work, need the benefits of breaks, and the structure of having them enforced by physical distance and time, even more than average workers. Your highest performers are also the ones most likely to burn out– and really cost your company– if you don’t get them out of the office on a regular basis.

Strong work-life boundaries also make it easier to enforce professional norms and get good performance. Like many people, I like the fact that work allows me to behave differently than I do in my private life; and that’s easier to maintain if those lives are actually separate. I know lots of employers like to talk about “bringing your best self to work,” but that assumes that your “best self” is the same whether you’re in the living room or the courtroom or operating room. One of the reason we find work and hobbies meaningful and rewarding is that those activities let us cultivate different best selves, or exercise parts of our selves in one context that we can’t in another.

The example of gamers moving to a training facility model is significant because these guys are the perfect workers of neoliberal corporate capitalism. They’re young men, unmarried, without families or even house plants. They have no lives, and it’s not clear that they really want them. They live and breathe their work. Most corporate sponsors (or employers) assume that to get the most of these people, you want to encourage those habits, and make it possible for work to overrun life.

But raw passion doesn’t make for world-class performance, and mere obsession can be beat by super-focused work. Combining great training and workplace with stronger work-life boundaries lets people work more intensively, at a higher level of performance– and that’s really what you want. You want them going home, so they can beat the guys who are sleeping under their desks.

“The costs of overwork can no longer be ignored:” Peter Fleming on working hours and the future of work

Peter Fleming has a piece in The Guardian on the dawning realization that our working hours need a reset:

Following 30 years of neoliberal deregulation, the nine-to-five feels like a relic of a bygone era. Jobs are endlessly stressed and increasingly precarious. Overwork has become the norm in many companies – something expected and even admired. Everything we do outside the office – no matter how rewarding – is quietly denigrated. Relaxation, hobbies, raising children or reading a book are dismissed as laziness. That’s how powerful the mythology of work is.

Technology was supposed to liberate us from much of the daily slog, but has often made things worse: in 2002, fewer than 10% of employees checked their work email outside of office hours. Today, with the help of tablets and smartphones, it is 50%, often before we get out of bed….

Thankfully, a sea change is taking place. The costs of overwork can no longer be ignored. Long-term stress, anxiety and prolonged inactivity have been exposed as potential killers.

In fact, the observation that overwork is costly and counterproductive goes back to the 1860s and 1870s. The French communist Paul Lafargue in The Right to Be Lazy noted:

In his study of machines M.F. Passy quotes the following letter from a great Belgian manufacturer M. Ottevaere: “Our machines, although the same as those of the English spinning mills, do not produce what they ought to produce or what those same machines would produce in England, although the spinners there work two hours a day less. We all work two good hours too much. I am convinced that if we worked only eleven hours instead of thirteen we should have the same product and we should consequently produce more economically.” Again, M. Leroy Beaulieu affirms that it is a remark of a great Belgian manufacturer that the weeks in which a holiday falls result in a product not less than ordinary weeks.

We’ve known for a long time that overwork is problematic; but I suspect that it is becoming both worse, and more obviously counterproductive.

And the solutions are closer to hand. In my recent research on companies that have shortened their working hours, I’ve been impressed at how even in high-stress, demanding industries it’s possible to go from an 8-hour day (or really a 10-hour day) to 6 hours. We often talk about shorter work days or work weeks as nice in theory but completely impractical; in fact, they’re both nice in theory, and entirely practical. You don’t have to be a political radical, or motivated mainly by desires to redistribute wealth or spread employment (though both can be laudable goals); you can be interested in creating a company that is stable, profitable, and built for the long term, and see shorter hours as a great way to help you reach those goals.

New study: UK workers are productive 2 hours, 53 minutes a day

Vouchercloud.com, a UK-based company, just published the results of a survey of 1,989 full-time office workers in the UK  “as part of research into the online habits and productivity of workers across the nation.” (I learned about it from Canadian journalist Joanne Richard, who quotes me in an article she wrote about inefficiency in the workplace.)

This isn’t the most scientific survey so take it with a grain of salt, but it does as some interesting questions.

Do you consider yourself to be productive throughout the entire working day?

A whopping 79% of respondents said no. Though I suppose anyone who’s totally honest or totally pedantic would say “no.”

If you had to state a figure, how long do you think you spend productively working during work hours on a daily basis?

According to the company, “the average answer… [was] ‘2 hours and 53 minutes’ of actual productivity in the workplace across all respondents.”

This of course is the big headline-grabber, but an average of self-reported numbers should be treated not as an exact figure, and more of an indicator of how productive people feel, or how much work they think they’re able to get done. However, I think what we can take away is that most people feel like they’re not especially productive for most of the day.

What are you guilty of spending time doing during the working day rather than working productively?

This is where things get interesting. Respondents were given the choice to select non-work activities that they engaged in, and asked to estimate the amount of time they spent at each one. Here are the results:

Checking social media: 47% (44 minutes)
Reading news websites: 45% (1 hour 5 minutes)
Discussing out of work activities with colleagues: 38% (40 minutes)
Making hot drinks: 31% (17 minutes)
Smoking breaks: 28% (23 minutes)
Text/instant messaging: 27% (14 minutes)
Eating snacks: 25% (8 minutes)
Making food in office: 24% (7 minutes)
Making calls to partner/friends: 24% (18 minutes)
Searching for new jobs: 19% (26 minutes)

What jumps out at me is how many of these activities are actually forms of self-distraction. They’re not Facebook luring you away with a carefully-engineered dopamine hit, but the siren call of the break room and another cup of tea, or a check to see how Sunderland is doing or to catch up on the latest Brexit news. (At least one vending machine company has interpreted the survey to mean that having vending machines at work improves productivity.)

Do you think that you could get through the working day without partaking in any distractions?

65% said no, they couldn’t, but 54% also argued that because distractions make work “more bearable,” it was a net positive.

The specific numbers are less interesting, I think, that the general trends the survey reveals: people find lots of ways to be distracted or self-distract in the modern workplace.

As Joanne Richard’s piece mentions, I’ve been doing some work looking at companies that are experimenting with shorter working hours (and also naps), talking to CEOs about why they implement these programs, and what their companies get out of them. (These are all small firms, or in a couple cases, local offices of big companies.) One of the things that motivates all of them is a recognition that most offices today are really inefficient places: for all our talk about overwork, and our belief that long hours are an essential if regrettable part of modern life, the reality is that much of that expansion comes from poor planning, inefficient or distracting use of technology, or a recognition among employees that the work they’re doing isn’t terribly meaningful or engaging.

So if two hours a day are wasted in meetings and checking email (which a couple reputable sources estimate), why not control those and let people go home early? Better to design a workday that is shorter, more engaged and challenging, and leaves people with more free time.

“overwork is just one tool to fight deadlines, and not a solution of first resort”

I’ve been looking at companies that are fighting back against the culture of overwork (mainly in software, Web development and video games), and this morning came across this terrific piece by veteran developer Keith Fuller, “Fixing overwork isn’t easy, but it’s the best investment we can make“:

It’s not reasonable to suggest we make games in the complete absence of long work weeks. Of course there will be times when a measure of overwork takes place due to consensus or company ground rules. But what I would suggest as a guiding principle is this: First show me the discipline to adhere to a no-overwork policy, then we’ll talk about extending grace in exceptional times. It shouldn’t happen the other way around.

This line also jumped out at me:

Overworking any employee is bad enough, but the situation becomes even more evil when you start with people who have addictive personalities and then reward their worst impulses.

I was recently on a Malaysian radio show, talking about hobbies and deep play, and one of the points I made was exactly this: that lots of Nobel laureates (to take one population of high achievers in strenuous, competitive fields) have serious hobbies, in part because they know that otherwise they’d default to spending all their time in the lab, and that would be bad. They like their work, and often have a lot of control over their time and the resources to pursue whatever they want; but even they recognize that they’ll do better work if they do other things.

Anyway, go read the whole piece.

Overwork as laziness: My latest pieces for Thrive Global

I’ve got a two-part article on Thrive Global up today, around the concept of overwork as laziness.

We think of overwork as a sign that we’re in-demand, living life to the fullest, fulfilling the Protestant Work Ethic, etc.; and as economists and sociologists have noted, in the last thirty or so years, long hours have even become a status symbol among professionals and better-off workers.

But this is a very new way to think about overwork, as I note in part 1. For a long time, philosophers and theologians (ranging from the Roman Stoic Seneca to German theologian Josef Pieper) warned that overwork was a kind of laziness.

And it’s one we should abandon. In fact, as I explain in part 2, some smart companies are already doing that. They’re scaling back on working hours, and their leaders are motivated to do that in part because they’ve come to see overwork as a signal of organizational failure– not a sign that you’ve got highly-motivated employees who want to Crush It, but that you’ve got managers who don’t know how to plan and prioritize.

Freelancers need to rest, too

Manchester-based Web site Creative Boom has an article urging freelancers to “ditch the freelance guilt:”

The first couple of years of freelancing weren’t exactly a walk in the park. But now you’re established, and have a few steady clients under your belt, you don’t have to work seven days a week or 12 hour days any more (well, let’s hope not); you can take your foot off the accelerator.

So why aren’t you doing that? What’s stopping you from enjoying a better work/life balance?… If you’ve been wondering lately if freelancing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, it’s time to embrace one of its key perks – and that’s being in control of how you spend your days.

The article alternates insights from REST with stories about how freelancers and creatives learn how to work a little less, and draw benefit from doing so. It’s a nice reminder that it’s not just Darwin and John Cleese who benefit from deliberate rest; everybody– and especially people any kind of creative work– can benefit from it.

Seneca on busyness as idleness

If you ask people how they’re doing, you’ll often get some variation of “I’m so busy!”

I Am Very Busy

Many people make the mistake of confusing busyness with productivity; in fact, they’re not at all the same thing, and it’s important that we recognize the difference.

Busyness is essentially an emotion, an attitude, a face we put on for the world. It’s how we experience time, how we think about the things we have to do. And it’s easy to treat the feeling of rushing about, of always having no time, as a signal that we’re getting stuff done. But for a very long time, really smart people have been warning us that this is not the case. Indeed, it’s backwards.

For example, William James wrote more than a century ago (my emphasis):

We say that so many of our fellow-countrymen collapse, and have to be sent abroad to rest their nerves, because they work so hard. I suspect that this is an immense mistake. I suspect that neither the nature nor the amount of our work is accountable for the frequency and severity of our breakdowns, but that their cause lies rather in those absurd feelings of hurry and having no time, in that breathlessness and tension, that anxiety of feature and that solicitude for results, that lack of inner harmony and ease, in short, by which with us the work is so apt to be accompanied, and from which a European who should do the same work would nine times out of ten be free. These perfectly wanton and unnecessary tricks of inner attitude and outer mariner in us, caught from the social atmosphere, kept up by tradition, and idealized by many as the admirable way of life, are the last straws that break the American camel’s back, the final overflowers of our measure of wear and tear and fatigue.

The voice, for example, in a surprisingly large number of us has a tired and plaintive sound. Some of us are really tired (for I do not mean absolutely to deny that our climate has a tiring quality); but far more of us are not tired at all, or would not be tired at all unless we had got into a wretched trick of feeling tired, by following the prevalent habits of vocalization and expression. And if talking high and tired, and living excitedly and hurriedly, would only enable us to do more by the way, even while breaking us down in the end, it would be different. There would be some compensation, some excuse, for going on so. But the exact reverse is the case. It is your relaxed and easy worker, who is in no hurry, and quite thoughtless most of the while of consequences, who is your efficient worker; and tension and anxiety, and present and future, all mixed up together in our mind at once, are the surest drags upon steady progress and hindrances to our success.

In his great book Leisure: The Basis of Culture, Josef Pieper noted that medieval thinkers regarded overwork as a kind of idleness, as it took time and attention away from spiritual matters and contemplation.

Today, in an essay on his writings about idleness (Anna Lydia Motto and John R. Clark, “‘Hic Situs Est’: Seneca on the Deadliness of Idleness,” The Classical World 72:4 (December 1978), 207-215), I read this about Seneca’s attitude toward busyness:

In his philosophic writings Seneca seeks to distinguish sharply between otium (leisure) and ignavia (idleness or sloth). He vividly contrasts the life of leisure (vita otiosa) with the idle life (occupatio desidiosa), stressing the immense difference between the two. The vita ignava is detestable; it causes man to hate his life; it is a deadly punishment. The Philosopher urges his fellow-men to avoid indolent or idle inaction that is comparable to a living death.

Moreover, he likewise emphasizes the futility and absurdity of a life devoted to busy idleness. Those who are “out of breath for no purpose, always busy about nothing” do not have leisure but idle occupation– “Non habent isti otium, sed iners negotium.” Their way of life may be compared to the aimless meanderings of ants. They crawl about frantically with no fixed goal, consuming their time in meaningless diversions which weary them to no purpose. Seneca picturesquely portrays these human beings breathlessly absorbed in the manifold activities they happen to stumble upon. [210, my emphasis]

Seneca has always urged his readers not to descend into a life that is deadly, one that is moribund. With vehement zeal, the Philosopher claims that man can, either in his early years or late in life, revivify himself, study the art of living (i.e., philosophy), and practice it in the world of leisure.58 However, such withdrawal will never be wasted in fruitless vacuity and morbid idleness, but consecrated to a lively, contemplative leisure. Assuredly, the vita contemplativa is by no means devoid of action, for it continuously entails a strenuous, quickened commitment to studies, to meditation, and to thought. Through such leisure, man can benefit his fellow-men-more than in any other way. [214]

So the idea that busyness isn’t really productive, but is a form of distraction, turns out to be really old.

Constant availability, job performance, and the loss of professional autonomy

In the Martin Scorcese movie Goodfellas, Henry Hill explains how people interact with the big Mafia boss, Paul Cicero.

He got all his calls second hand. Then you’d have to call the people back. There were guys, that’s all they did all day, was take care of Paulie’s calls.

For a guy who moved all day long, Paulie didn’t talk to 6 people.

This was a sign of how powerful Paulie was. You didn’t call him. You didn’t talk to him. You talked to someone, who talked to him, who’d then get back to you.

In a world as action-driven and performative as (the imaginative world of) the Mafia, being able to interact in such a limited way is a sign of real power.

Indeed, you can measure how powerful someone is by how accessible they are, and how easy it is to figure out how to talk to them. Me? You can find my contact information easily. Larry Ellison or Bill Gates? Good luck.

I was reminded of the Goodfellas scene by this anecdote told by Diane Shannon, author of the new book Preventing Physician Burnout:

During the question and answer period after a talk I gave on preventing burnout, the male internist, a faculty member at a university medical center, told the audience that hospital administrators had recently begun requiring that physicians list their cell phone numbers with the contact information on the organization’s website. There were no guidelines included about when and under what circumstances patients should use the numbers.

He told us, “I now get texts from patients who expect an immediate response. I was recently in clinic seeing patients when a patient texted me twice in an hour, then when I didn’t reply called the office and yelled at our staff. This summer I was out of the country on vacation with my family and received multiple texts from patients. No matter the time of day or the seriousness of the medical condition, patients have complete access to contacting me. I feel like I’m never off.”

Put simply, this policy is bonkers. Heaven knows I like the idea of a doctor being accessible when I really need, but I also like dealing with a doctor who isn’t exhausted from having to answer texts at 1 a.m.

It’s not like burnout wasn’t already a problem before the rise of smartphones. Mayo Clinic physician Tait Shanafelt has been measuring the extent and impact of burnout on American doctors, and he conducted surveys in 2008 and 2010 measuring burnout rates. He found in his 2010 survey, for example, that 40 percent of surgeons reported feeling burned out, 30 percent were depressed, and those who felt burned out were more likely to have made a “major medical error” in the previous three months. Poorly thought-out policies like publishing a doctor’s cellphone number will only make this worse.

More broadly, this is another indicator of how the profession of medicine has lost status. When you lose control over your schedules, see your privacy eroded, and have to interact with other people under the assumption that you don’t get to set up and maintain boundaries between their working and private lives, you’ve lost status– and your work is likely to suffer, too.

 

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