5/16/09

Work's Dichotomy

I’ve recently had the most amazing revelation this past week. I realized that I could get more work done at work when I wasn’t working at home. To close a meeting at the end of the work day, I said I had to get home because I had a roast in the Crockpot; the jokes ultimately were on me. Being single, I don’t have a dog or a cat, a child, spouse, or fish to come home to, but today I did have a roast, and now it’s drier than the Sahara. My point in trying to close the meeting was that it was time to go; there was nothing else that we could do, that couldn’t be done tomorrow. Now, I’m not advocating procrastination, I’ve just learned that once the afternoon rolls in, my brain has usually been raked over the coals enough times to have no spark or flame left. Years ago when I was growing up and still today, I have to have at least an hour for myself to make the transition from work to home. For the past year, I wasn’t making that transition. I would shutdown my computer at work, only to turn it on a half hour later at home. Going through the same exact routine at 7pm as I did at 8am: first outlook, then explorer, and if I needed something else iTunes. At first, it was great, I would come in the next morning relaxed and feeling relieved at what I had accomplished the night before. After a short time though, I started to become a zombie. At night, I would stare at my computer trying to work, write, think, compute, or increase any productivity…in essence capitalizing on my singleness. The past two weeks though when I’ve come home, and tried to work, I keep denying myself the satisfaction. I don’t think that I reached burnout capacity. One of the things that I learned as a boy scout was that fire requires three elements, oxygen, fuel, and a spark. Remove any one of those legs, and the proverbial stool has nothing to stand on. By the time that I got home, I had nothing put the spark. I wanted to start that fire, and I tried so hard, but I didn’t have any oxygen or fuel. The spirit was willing, but the body was weak. I wasn’t taking care of myself, and ultimately I had discovered work’s dichotomy. Work is work at work. But work at home is not homework. I’ve now started coming home, and I’ve started working on building up my supply of oxygen and fuel, so that the fire can burn bright and strong when I start the day anew. There’s been a dramatic change in my productivity and alertness at work. It’s so weird to me that I can get more done in 8 hours than I can in 8 plus an additional 2 or 3 hours.
The bottom line is that less is more, and that more is not more. We were designed to work, but we are also designed to play and rest. Just like my fire analogy, play and rest are the oxygen and fuel to any fire. We may have the drive to work in excess, but without the play and rest, we render ourselves useless to work.

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