GeneralHr Library

Wasting your Life at Work

Source | LinkedIn : By Ramesh Srinivasan

We had 30 minutes to spare, and it being a Friday evening, we started a discussion on getting back to work on Monday morning. When asked about what they are looking forward to at their workplace, the decibel levels of the groans, moans, cribs and whines rose to a cacophonic crescendo. From all that noise, here is the summary of how they said the Monday (or any workday) morning activities unfold:

  1. We will go into office, switch on the desktop/laptop.
  2. A number of mails will await us and we will start addressing them.

iii.        The phone will ring, a few updates will happen, leading to a few more actions.

  1. A few calendar invites for meetings will be accepted.
  2. We will agree and participate at a few conference calls/video calls.
  3. We will do mails, attend meetings, take calls, do meetings, attend to mails, take calls, do mails, attend meetings, do conference calls…..and, before we know, the day has gone by.

vii.        We will come back the next day, and the routine will repeat itself.

Work needs to remain auxiliary to Life. We must ensure that Life is setting limits for Work, and never the other way around. The parameters that Life may use to trim work will be many – time, joy, learning, health, love and many more an immeasurable. How do you identify Waste? When today is like yesterday, this week is no different from the last one, and every year looks like any of the previous ones at work, life is seeping out of Life.

The 19th century philosopher and the world’s original anarchist Pierre-Joseph Production reminds us that, “To work is not necessarily to produce anything.” Maybe that is what makes people be in meetings that they do not need to be part of, and not walk out of those that are clearly a waste of time. Why do folks come late for a meeting/call that they had agreed to be a part of, and always blame the previous one they were at? Why is the spending of time in office beyond 9 am to 5 pm considered a badge of honour? To quote poet Robert Frost, “The world is full of willing people, some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.”

The American Constitution promises its citizens “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. We may have read the last part wrong, and taken it as “Happiness of Pursuit”. Stop any of the frenzied, frazzled executives on their way to work on Outer Ring Road or Hosur Road in Bangalore, and ask them, “What are you in pursuit of?” The answer will probably be a look that will make a zombie proud. A wild, harried pursuit can put you in a trance, also called an activity trap.

Charles Boyle says, “If not controlled, work will flow to the competent man until he submerges.” Being submerged is being busy, and being busy is fighting for breath. At the end of the day, having merely ‘done time’, they earnestly believe that their ‘busyness’ made it a great day at work. How come people are proud to say, “I am busy?” Isn’t being busy a sign of (a) being swept away by the tides (b) our chasing the clock? Or (c) becoming a victim of unexpected happenings?

“If Work is all that good as it is made out to be, why are the rich doing so little of it?” asks a cynical Charlie Chaplin, one of the best commentators on the happenings of the 40s. It is not only the rich; even the happier amongst us work less. Happiness comes from doing only what we decided to do, and disconnecting when we want to.

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