Rene Descartes, the French philosopher, slept 10 hours a night. He would wake mid-morning, linger in bed thinking and writing. By 11:00 a.m., he was usually done with work for the day. Unlike many other creatives, he believed idleness was important for good mental work. It’s a position I endorse. Apparently he made sure never to overexert himself. I learned this from the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. If you’ve ever wondered how other creative types manage to get anything done, you might enjoy flipping through it.

Someone with a rather different approach to work was Nikola Tesla. When he worked in Thomas Edison’s office, he usually worked from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. the next morning. When he started his own company, he started work at noon and worked at the office until midnight with a break for dinner at a restaurant at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. The next time you feel reluctant to sink two or three hours into some project you’ve been thinking of doing, consider Tesla’s approach. If it’s not practical, you can always try to apply a Cartesian focus to your work and zip through it by midmorning only to play the rest of the day.