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Work & effort are not the same, it’s all about balance

Work & effort are not the same, it’s all about balance

Working with effort to the bone

A few weeks ago I eluded to a new section on our website introducing a new initiative. And then a couple weeks ago we launched our new website with the new Lifestyle Workplace or TLW for short. It seems that we are (as usual) ahead of the curve and have just defined a product that more & more are writing about. For instance:

Outwitting the “Effort Trap” in your work

I found Oliver Burkeman’s article “No One Cares How Hard You Work” via the excellent finance blog The Billfold but its ideas resonate way beyond the money aspect of work. I think the attitude of Burkeman’s article is very much in the air, as many of us right now are searching for that elusive work-life balance.

Burkeman presents an interesting premise: Socialization has led us to believe that tired feeling as you sink gratefully into that bus seat at the end of a long day at the office signals a job well done. But it may simply signal energy lost — most likely frittered away — on busywork.

“Call it the ‘Effort Trap:’ it’s dangerously easy to feel as though a 10-hour day spent plowing through your inbox, or catching up on calls, was much more worthwhile than two hours spent in deep concentration on hard thinking, followed by a leisurely afternoon off. Yet any writer, designer or web developer will tell you it’s the two focused hours that pay most—both in terms of money and fulfillment. […]

Indeed, meaningful work doesn’t always lead to exhaustion at all: a few hours of absorption in it can be actively energizing—so if you’re judging your output by your tiredness, you’re sure to be misled.”

We are hardwired to find this sense of false accomplishment rewarding, and we reward others in our lives for it. (Burkeman cites Dan Ariely’s tale of a locksmith who as he got better — and therefore more efficient — at his job, started getting smaller tips, because his clients associated his speedier calls with doing less “work.”

It will take a lot of (wait for it) work to stop thinking about work in terms of effort expended. Experts like Burkeman and Ariely believe that, if we can, the sense of reward we will reap will be even greater.