But surely, that's no reason to work even less? Imagine if great minds like Darwin or Dickens had cut down on their hours. We'd know nothing about Galapagos tortoises and still hate orphans. Except that slacking off is exactly what made those men so great at their job. According to Alex Pang, an author who studied the work routines of some of history's greatest figures, many of them only worked around four hours per day before calling it quits and going off to hunt bison or demean women or whatever people did in their off-time in the past.
Now, you might reason: "So if we're slacking off even more than Charles Darwin, how come we haven't cured all the cancers by now?" Well, all those old-timey brainiacs who only worked for about four hours engaged in what Pang calls "active rest" -- going out for hikes, developing hobbies, attending parties. You know, the kind of leisure activities that, according to sleep researcher Sara Mednick, "improve alertness, help consolidate information you learned earlier, and help with emotional regulation." The kind you can't do while killing time at work or zoning out in front of Netflix after a long day at the office. So the problem isn't that slacking off keeps us from working productively, but that work keeps us from slacking off productively.