Thursday, November 4, 2010

An Ideal Work Day

When I was in high school, I remember talking with my uncle about how he really works for two hours on a good day.  His definition of working was rather lawyer-ly: "work" is the time where you are completely focus and doing something that only you can do. The rest of the time you are going through the motions.

At the time, he was the director of a bank. His hobbies include golfing, tennis, and cooking. Doing all these activities with his wife-- along with writing and managing his portfolio-- keeps him wildly happy now that he is in his 70s. It seems, in some ways, that he also has applied this theory to his life in retirement.

At the time of this conversation, I didn't had a job other than being in school. What my uncle has to say was intriguing and abstract, staying with me. Each time I've been at a job, I think about this idea. Those two hours a day are what make you happy to be there. If you don't have them, you can easily feel bored at work.

Yesterday, I volunteered for 4 hours working on a mailing to raise money for a non-profit organization that supports people who are brave enough to leave harmful domestic situations. They are so well organized and make it so comfortable to pitch in and help out that I love showing up.

There is another kind of satisfaction-- one that is different from the two challenging hours-- that comes from a repetitive task. You start with a pile of undone and it becomes a pile of done.

The best work days are a combination of the satisfaction from completing the straightforward tasks that build confidence in competence and the satisfaction from challenges that you are uniquely prepared to resolve.

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