Does More Time Mean More Productivity?

Six days have passed since I quit playing WoW (for an average of 7.65 hours a day for 20 days). But in these last few days, I feel that I haven’t been any more productive than while playing WoW. You’d think that having even 1 extra hour every day would be a huge bonus to productivity. Having 7.65 extra hours per day would be the best thing ever, right?

Short answer: No.

Paradoxically, it seems that having all these extra hours does not increase productivity one bit. When I was playing WoW, I used my spare time very, very efficiently. I was either sleeping, doing homework, or attending class. This is on top of band rehearsals and other social activities. So, I would play a ton of WoW, but everything else was done efficiently. I wouldn’t say these things were rushed. Analyzing my grades during these 20 days (both prelims and essays), I find no significant drop. In fact, I think my grades overall improved during the experiment.

In the last 6 days, I don’t quite think my grades are slipping, but I am not doing much more. So the question is, where are these 7.65 hours a day going? Here is my estimate:

  • 2 hours: Sleep. I’m definitely doing much better on sleep. I went from averaging 5 hours a day to averaging 7.
  • 2 hours: Random Internet Surfing. Okay, I know I used to do a little of this each day (like 15 minutes a day), but this has become much more significant. This may be the residual impact of WoW addiction, as I’m still looking a lot at the Internet.
  • 1.5 hours: Blogging. Yay! During the 20-day experiment I made only 1 post. In the 6 days afterwards, if I include this post, I made 5, and some of them were quite lengthy.
  • 1 hour: Reading. This, I feel, is my only real increase in productivity. For example, I read Taylor’s Principles of Scientific Management, and I’m catching up a bit on math textbook reading. Yet, it doesn’t have a direct impact on grades, so this is perhaps why I feel I’m not more productive.
  • The remaining 1.15 hours: Other. I can’t account for this time.

This is still very interesting. Overall my productivity stayed nearly the same. It’s as if I have a max limit on productive hours a day (which would be horrible!).

Note: I am NOT making a case to go back to WoW. In fact, I have already uninstalled WoW, and since my computer has an SSD instead of a hard drive, the uninstallation was instant. I.e., 18 Gb of space freed in a split second. I don’t plan on returning to WoW in the near future. Later, perhaps next year, I might run a phase 2 of the experiment, going through the content from Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm (leveling from 70 to 85). I am mostly, however, unwilling to spend the money to buy these expansions.

Finally, I would like to explain my answers to a couple of real questions that have been posed to me regarding the WoW experiment.

Where did you get the time to play WoW?

As this post illustrates, playing WoW did NOT cut into any of my important time. In fact, in terms of productivity, it was just as high while playing WoW as before. I managed the rest of my time much more efficiently while playing WoW.

You managed to quit easily after 20 days. That’s not an addiction!

You have a good point here. But I would still say I was addicted to WoW. It is a hooking game in that, every free moment I had, WoW would creep my mind, and I would be compelled to launch the game. I quit because (1) I was running an experiment, so I had already planned an exit strategy, so to speak, and (2) I was at level 70, and to advance any further, I would have needed to purchase the Wrath of the Lich King expansion for $40. I figured I had already some good results, and didn’t need to pursue the game further.

(Note to Richard: The argument I make in this post is another reason I do not wish to experiment with polyphasic sleep. Having more hours a day does not translate fully into having more productivity.)

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