Friday, February 16, 2007

The problem with effective work

A week ago I posted about getting my work done in five hours a day. Here's my biggest fear with that approach (seriously!):


paul a'barge said...

Funny. I would have said "Looks incompetent" instead of "Looks productive".

Anonymous said...

"Looks productive" is what 95% of the world will see.

I've worked with people like this for 18 years. For a long time I'd assume they just got the most difficult assignments. Only recently have I been swayed to the "looks incompetent" mind-set.

Brad Wright said...

You're right about what the world will see... sadly looking busy is as important as getting stuff done. As such, we end up having to manage other people's perceptions of us as well as our own work.

Mark said...

I think the solution is to work efficiently, but do it for eight hours a day instead of the only five it would take to get your required work done. Use the additional three hours of efficient work to get ahead in your field, aiming for self-employment and eventually owning your own business or consultantcy, and then becoming financially independent. At that point, what other people do or don't think about how many hours you work is irrelevant because you are your own boss and their opinion can't affect you.

In short, this is only a problem for people who don't have any ambition higher than getting the minimum amount of required work done and leaving the office as soon as possible.

eclexia said...

I appreciate this and the post that came before it. I'm interested in seeing if I can find the book you linked to.

Energy management (especially for introverts) is a huge issue, and one that I, as an introvert trying to recover from longterm burnout, am wrestling with in a very personal way.

Mark, what you say sounds great, but I think something about the nature of efficiency and the energy required to maintain that(at least for some people) might make more efficiency, for longer, counterproductive. In my mind, I'm picturing some sort of curve like Brad had on the post about amount of work and difficulty of work related to how much is learned.

Maybe it's kind of like the "cheetah principle" (I'm making that label up). The cheetah excels at what it does--efficient use of every body part, high speed perfection, but only for a short time.

We can work efficiently and productively, but to do both long term and extremely well, something has to give. Perhaps productivity, efficiency, relationships or health.

I'm glad for people (and the widespread contributions they make) who do push through and seem to be able to maintain high efficiency/high productivity for the long term, but not everyone can work that way. And that's not just about "laziness" or "lack of motivation".