What Happened to 9-to-5?

Are you guilty of doing any of these?

  1. Setting off for vacation only to take your work phone, laptop, or both with you in your suitcase. And then setting them out in your hotel room. And then using them.
  2. Checking work email within the first hour of waking up. Or, worse, as soon as the alarm clock goes off.
  3. Checking work email during dinner. Or, worse, just before you go to bed.
  4. Working over the weekend. Even if it’s “only for a little bit.”
  5. Discovering that, despite all your additional efforts, your extra work had little impact because the deadline you were working on wasn’t a true deadline.

With technology making access to work so easy, it’s just as easy to keep working. And nowadays, it seems that many people wear their longer hours like a badge of honor. How about this familiar conversation. It’s Monday morning and you’re stepping into the elevator and you run into a colleague:

“How was your weekend? Beautiful weather, wasn’t it?”
“Definitely, but I worked for half of it.” The colleague gives a shrug, like it was no big deal. “How about you? Did you do anything fun?”
“Went to the beach, but got sucked into some work emails and missed out on volleyball and swimming. Now that I think about it, the email probably could have waited until today.”
“Maybe next weekend will be better, then.”
“Yeah. Maybe next weekend will be better.”

But as we all know, next weekend usually never turns out the way we planned. See, working with flexibility (in a work-life balance mindset) is one thing. But when the job takes over your life that has nothing to do with a major, time-sensitive project with a hard deadline? That’s something else entirely. We now live in a culture devoted to thinking that keeping busy equals something of importance. That unless we’re working past the traditional 9-to-5 on a regular basis, we’re not really working.

Okay, so let’s take a step back and admit that, today, the traditional 9-to-5 concept is long gone. But in its truest sense, that’s because more companies now recognize that employees are happiest when they can adjust their workday to accommodate real life. So 9-to-5 may in actuality be something more like 8-to-10, then 1-to-4, finished by 7-10. Or even 7-to-7 three days a week. Or something else entirely.

The point is, flexibility isn’t the same thing as busyness. Busyness, or giving the appearance that being busy and putting in longer hours and days that’s not project- and time-specific, is very different. And it comes with a price.

Today more workers are stressed, tired, and suffering the physical effects of not balancing life with what true work is. They’re unhappy, trying to find comfort and peace outside of themselves, and still falling back on the bad pattern of busyness. It’s a product of a culture in love with the idea that technology is good and that doing more–all at the same time–is even better.

Umm, no it isn’t.

So let’s think about this a bit more.

When we’re overly busy, our minds and bodies are overloaded. There’s too much going on for the brain to process. Yes the brain is a computer, but it’s a physical organ that needs care and feeding and rest. If you’re constantly taxing that brain, that central computer that regulates the body, something eventually is going to give. And often it’s on several levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

So how do we deal with this overworked attitude? How do we make our lives more productive and healthy without giving in to the concept of busyness?

  1. Focus on one task at a time. You’ll get much more done, and with much greater quality, when you accept that there is no such thing as multi-tasking. And when you’re done with that one thing, then you can move onto the next.
  2. Accept that busyness is all in your head and that it’s not necessary. In truth, no one is going to give you extra points for working yourself to death. An overloaded brain can’t perform at its optimum level no matter how much you try to convince yourself that it will.
  3. Give yourself a break. Allowing the brain and the body the time to rest is A Good Thing. It lets your cells recharge and renew the way Mother Nature intended. In fact, Mother Nature made us the way we are for a reason. It’s when man intervenes, in this case through busyness, that things get mucked up.
  4. Accept that doing nothing is not wasting your time. Even Paleolithic Man had periods where he did nothing. He may have worked his ass off, trying to capture and kill his next meal, but he also knew that sitting under a tree and taking the time to refresh and renew would give him the focus he needed for his next hunt.
  5. The brain needs time to wander. So let it. That’s where creativity and fresh thinking come from. It’s also the easiest thing to do. The next time you find your mind wandering, see where it leads you. You may be in for a terrific surprise.

Remember: the only reason you’re uncomfortable with downtime is because technology gives us more and more tools to keep us busy. Used properly, those tools can become our best allies. As long as you don’t let them run your life or ruin your weekends and vacations.

___________________________________________________

Copyright © 2012-2015 · All Rights Reserved · TerriPonce.com

About terriponce

I write about twists, turns, past lives and suspense.
This entry was posted in Stories Behind The Stories and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to What Happened to 9-to-5?

  1. You make some mighty good points here, Terri. I had a hard time walking away from my job evenings and weekends when I worked in the real world, and now that I’m retired and writing, it’s hard to break those old habits. I’m working on it though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wise words. But oh so hard to follow 🙂

    Like

  3. My greatest struggle with freelancing is working later into the evening than I would prefer. On the one hand, it’s great to have flexibility, but overall I am aiming to get my evenings and weekends back! Chunking my tasks to do only during certain times of the day has helped a lot for things like checking e-mail.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s