Mr. Rheingans is betting that we have this wrong. His experiment is premised on the idea that once you remove time-wasting distractions and constrain inefficient conversation about your work, five hours should be sufficient to accomplish most of the core activities that actually move the needle.
You know what, Mr. Rheingans might be on to something here. In my experience, when I've been working productively throughout the day, it is usually at the 5 hour mark that my brain starts slowing down. It is about that time when I would go to the break room, drink some water and think to myself, “my brain is fried.” Problem is, I still had 3 hours to go.
Work is not supposed to be fun. By work, I mean the kind where you are getting paid to provide a service to a company or employer or client. By that definition, it is almost guaranteed that sooner or later you will be asked to do something that is not fun.
I believe it is rare for someone to have a job that is also fun 100% of the time. An example are professional athletes. I'm sure they enjoy the sport they participate in, but even they have to put in the work to improve their game and their physical conditioning. That is just part of the job.
I'll use myself as another example. I love programming and I love solving problems by writing code to solve them. To me that's fun. However, working as a software developer is not “solving problems by writing code” 100% of the time. I still have to drive through traffic to get to and from the office. I still need to write documentation. I still need to work through ugly legacy code. I still need to do code reviews. I still need to train new developers. I still need to do compliance training. I still need to attend meetings. The list goes on and on and on. All of that comes as part of being employed as a software developer. None of those are necessarily fun, but they are to be expected of me, because that is part of the job. That is the work that needs to be done.
Why do I keep a work journal at the office?
I was looking up “journals” and found a blog post from a software developer who kept a work journal. I thought it was interesting and decided to give it a try. A few weeks after, I read Cal Newport's books and found out that he too kept a journal at work. So that was even more incentive to keep one.