Effort vs. Productivity

"Women in Physics" is a student group at the UCSB physics department and they meet every Tuesday for lunch, organize events like presentations from companies which are interested in hiring physicists and visit schools to tell students how awesome physics is. But no worries, there are also male students in the group :-) !

Prof Jennifer Ross, a biophysics professor from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, joined us for the lunch last week. She's also writing a blog ;) about being a scientist and right now about her sabbatical which she's spending here. (A sabbatical can be half a year or a year in which a professor moves to another university to conduct research and to talk to researchers at this university.)
We talked about a lot of things, e.g. the organization in her group, research in general and what changed during her sabbatical. I learned about the effort-productivity-relation as sketched here (the parabola is just a model and I can't give you a source except our conversation, but it makes sense):

At first, I thought it would be best to be at the peak of the curve, but then there's no space for an increase in productivity e.g. if you have to work more intensely before a deadline. The graph came up when we chatted about work-life-balance and Prof Ross said that science is important, but the priorities should be 1. sleep, 2. food, 3. science and then 4. gym etc. And science would be best if it's only eight hours a day. That really settled me down since so many people talked to me about showers, which are installed in science buildings because people don't have time to go home and shower. Or about the professor, who has not slept at all last night because he had to finish some grant applications...