Wednesday, January 2, 2013

All Work and No Play

If you ask anyone what their priorities are in life they will look something like this:


So you would think that when a big project comes up at work with some looming deadline that's completely unrealistic, and worse – arbitrary, people would resist.  Revolt even.  Instead they seem to want to rise to the challenge, and inevitably end up sacrificing the things they say are most important – time with God, Family, Friends, etc.  Instead they spend all their time at work, doing work at home, or when they are not actually doing work they are so exhausted and stressed out from work then they have little energy to do anything else.

One time I was talking to a co-worker as I was getting ready to leave for the day and they said something like “Oh yeah, you don't care if the project gets done”.  Ouch.  Harsh.  True though?  Possibly.  My goal at work is to do a great job while I'm there, put in a solid 8 hour work day, and go home.  If I don't think something will get done, I will try to re-estimate and let people know when it will actually be done.  A little overtime now and then is acceptable as long as it gets recognized and I get some additional pay or benefits from it somehow.

Often though I see the opposite.  People will just start to work overtime - even for free! - just to meet that deadline.  I hear people saying yeah I “donated” 5 hours this week.  Why on earth would you do that? Donate your time to work for free at your place of employment?  5-10 minutes, ok, yeah, whatever.  I don't want to mess with the paperwork.  Any more than that - I don't know about you, but I have far better things to spend my time on.

Possibly it's an appeal to pride.  What kind of a worker am I if I can't even get this done on time? I can do it!  I'm better than that!  To that I would say: you are worth more than that.  Your precious time here is worth more than that.

Possibly it's out of fear.  If I don't get this done, it will reflect badly on me and... whatever.  So suddenly work becomes your priority in life.  Nobody would ever admit to it, but it's very true.  That is what happens. Stop this madness! Just set some realistic expectations and go home.

I know of one person that said they feel that taking sick time off is a sign of weakness.  Now, let's break this down.  Let's assume that they are doing this the smart way and not actually coming in to work while sick. That means that when they are feeling better, they will be coming in to work lots of overtime to “catch up”. They are in effect saying that not using sick days is more important than the equivalent time off of work doing something with family or friends.  But of course if you ask, the most important thing in their life is their family. Hmmm.  Really?  And then occasionally they talk about not having enough time to spend with their family. Because work somehow became the priority in life.

A wise person once said “No complaining unless you are willing to do something about it”.  I agree with that wholeheartedly.  No more complaining about long work hours and no time for anything else... unless you are going to do something about it.

But the saddest part of all, is that most people don't even complain.  They just accept it as part of life.  If you prod you can clearly see it is hurting them, but they feel like they can't change it, or don't want to change it for whatever reason.  Mere logic may not be enough.  They need to be changed from the inside.  I don't really have an answer.  Maybe the best we can do is just pray for them.

1 comment:

  1. I've also seen people "give" time to work. The worst part is that it is setting up unrealistic time frames for the future for them and for co-workers. It feeds on itself, for what's the use in trying when you are set up to fail because of a fantasy time frame.