Our survey showed that the most popular time for Scamp readers to leave work is between 6.30pm and 7, having arrived, most commonly, before 9.

That's not a killingly long day, certainly compared to professions like banking or law.

I reckon there’s still a widespread belief that ‘a natural talent for it’ is the essential criterion for success in creative fields - like art, music and even advertising – far more so than in less creative fields like management consultancy, where it's believed that hard work is the key.

But are we Creatives really different?

In Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers he explains something he calls the “10,000 hour rule,” which states that to become expert at anything, one simply needs to put in 10,000 hours practicing it.

The 10,000 figure comes from the research of Anders Ericsson, who in the early 1990’s studied violinists at the Berlin Academy of Music.

“The curious thing about Ericsson’s study is that he and his colleagues couldn’t find any ‘naturals’ - musicians who could float effortlessly to the top while practising a fraction of the time that their peers did,” writes Gladwell. “Nor could they find ‘grinds’, people who worked harder than everyone else and yet just didn’t have what it takes to break into the top ranks. Their research suggested that once you have enough ability to get into a top music school, the thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works. That’s it. What’s more, the people at the very top don’t just work much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.”

Some Creatives cling to the belief that success is down to luck – getting the right brief at the right time, from a Client who just happened to be looking for great work. But if that is your view, you’ll be in a minority.

The pop culture quote: “The harder I work, the luckier I get,” attributed variously to movie mogul Sam Goldwyn and golfer Gary Player, is gaining greater and greater acceptance.

So even if you're a Creative who believes in the primacy of natural talent, or luck, you should be aware that attitudes are changing.

Hard workers are believed to be intrinsically more valuable.

Therefore, when you start a new job, it’s vital you establish a reputation as a hard worker - arrive before your boss arrives, and don’t leave until after he leaves. There’s an old saying that goes: “The man who has a reputation as an early riser, can get up at whatever time he chooses.”

However, if you are naturally a hard worker, my advice is don’t work hard gratuitously. Take your full holiday entitlement, and take your weekends – unless there’s a screaming emergency – else you’ll either burn out, fall out of love with the business, or end up depriving yourself of essential external stimulation, and your work will suffer. It’s easy to get into the habit of always leaving the office late as a matter of course. Don’t do that. Keep an extra gear in reserve, so you can kick up your work-rate when there’s a major crisis, or a major opportunity.

But the question of how hard you should work is partly answered by the prevailing culture of the Agency you’re working at.

In some Agencies, everyone works hard. “If you don’t come in on Saturday, then don’t bother coming in on Sunday” – words supposedly said by Tim Delaney. Wieden & Kennedy has such a reputation for long hours that it has acquired the nickname ‘Weekend & Kennedy.’ If you don’t work hard in an Agency like this, you’ll have a double problem – not only will you not produce as much work as everyone else, but also, you won’t fit in.

There are plenty of Agencies where Creatives normally work normal office hours. If that feels like what you want to do – perhaps you have a family, or other interests, you’re just not that into advertising, or you’re mentally exhausted by six o’clock – then you’ll be a lot happier if you work at one of these places.

I personally don't spend long hours in the office. However, I do seem to do a lot of thinking outside office hours. When I’m working on a brief it gives me a kind of psychological eczema, that I find myself scratching in the shower, on the bus, and on the toilet. So maybe that makes up for it.

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