How hard do you work?
February 9, 2005 3:24 PM   Subscribe

How hard do you work? [+]

Recently, I've found myself wondering - "Is everyone else as slack as me?". I do my work, and do it efficiently and well, but only when there's a pressing urgency. Otherwise, I'll generally surf the web, potter about on personal projects, and generally kill time most of the week. Are you like this? Or do you work flat-out, all the time, constantly busy? Either way, are you happy the way you are?
posted by coriolisdave to Work & Money (30 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My wife is very driven, and works hard for 8-9 hours a day. Sometimes weekends.

I'm a lot more like you. We're both happy the way we are.
posted by agropyron at 3:30 PM on February 9, 2005

I am like this. I'm unhappy with it but I'm putting off self improvement in favour of working on personal projects and generally just slacking off.
posted by Evstar at 3:31 PM on February 9, 2005

I try for 8 hours of actual work each weekday (that is, I don't include lunch or going to the gym into that number). If I have something pressing or a lot of work to do, I'm willing to work until I start getting fatigued and to work weekends. I never pull all-nighters. I often take quick breaks to check websites, email, etc. If I've just finished something big and have nothing else to do, I'll take a day or so and just catch up on online reading and relax.

I find I'm happiest at the end of the day when I know I've done a full-day's work.
posted by driveler at 3:33 PM on February 9, 2005

This is not something to be ashamed of. As I always say, humans are subjective. To place something objective on them like mandates--work, the law, religion, is to restrict them, and even though this DOES occur, it inhibits humanity's natural subjectivity. We can't deal with schedules. If we were perfect beings, there would BE no tardies, with anything.

That being said, I'm the slackiest slack that ever slacked. You aren't alone. And it's perfectly ok to cruise by life slackin'. I do do my OWN work with some effort and this does get completed, sometimes. I don't sit around all week, I go out with friends, and the like, but even then, we are doing recreational activities; no work involved.

Working is eeevil. There are plenty of ways to live modestly and be happy.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 3:36 PM on February 9, 2005

Working is eeevil. There are plenty of ways to live modestly and be happy.

Woah! Those two statements do not justify one another. I work very hard and there's nothing evil about it (I also live modestly, for that matter). Slack all you like, but there's no need to judge those who enjoy their jobs.
posted by bingo at 3:45 PM on February 9, 2005

Oh, haha sorry...I was joking (note the many e's) in that last sentence. I mean obviously you can see wehre it's coming from, but I wasn't serious.

Didn't mean to offend anyone! x_x My real point was that it is possible to live a modestly good lifestyle with a minimal amount of work. It is challenginga t first, but it becomes easy overtime.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 3:49 PM on February 9, 2005

I used to be very driven and work, work, work with brief and irregular periods of slack. I am annoyed at myself for having found MetaFilter and myriad other websites that suck the productivity right out of me.

posted by FlamingBore at 3:50 PM on February 9, 2005

When I ran the labs for the southeast region of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, I worked on average about 8 hours per 40 (and sometimes 60) hour workweek. That's right, I was pulling overtime and doing absolutely nothing related to work. I literally had nothing to do but fill a chair.

Although the bulk of the work was performing radiological analyses on environmental samples, some requiring 72 hours of detector time, I had the admin time for logging down to a minimum. Also, since I was working for the NRC, many of our regulations for handling radioactive materials did not apply to me.

After the NRC cancelled the Confirmatory Measurements program, wherein I would have licensee labs measure plant samples and calibrated standards of common geometries and then I would compare their results with my own, my weekly workload dropped to less than 2 hours a week. At that point, my conscience couldn't take anymore and I quit. (I doubt they were trying to force me out with boredom, because they had more than enough on me to flat out fire me.)

Such is the nature of working for the federal government.
posted by mischief at 3:54 PM on February 9, 2005

I work as much as is necessary--which means long days for some projects and short days for others, depending on the client, the team and the timeline. It all evens out in the end, so I don't freak out if I end up on a conference call while I'm on vacation (rare, but it happens) and I definitely don't feel I'm slacking if I go home at 1:00 because I've finished up what needed to be done for the day. I know I do a good job and the number of hours involved isn't really a fair measure.
posted by idest at 4:00 PM on February 9, 2005

I go through phases, usually concurrent with my workload. I'll work like a fiend for a few weeks, then slack like there's no tomorrow for a week. (Which makes me feel guilty, incidentally.)

Hmm. I wonder if it's hormonal...
posted by Specklet at 4:02 PM on February 9, 2005

I don't exactly kill myself. We don't sign in or out, and nobody really clocks us. I 'work' 4 x 10 hr days, but I rarely put in much more than 32 hours per week. I come in, check email and voice mail, then I teach my classes. 8:30 - 11:30 teach, hit the gym, then theach from 1 - 3. Then I'm gone.

I don't really feel wracked with guilt, either, since in the olden days when I was a buyer I did bust ass and I was busy all the time. That was like being a fireman, moving from crisis to crisis.

Since I volunteered for this project four years ago, everything changed. Nobody else wants to stand in front of a class and teach and they were desperate for instructors. I'm pretty sure that I'm not invisible but everybody seems to be happy with the arrangement so why rock the boat? I'm really happy, BTW.

My wife is a total grind and works from home, weekends, on the cell phone all the time. She likes what she does.

Such is the nature of working for the federal government.
posted by fixedgear at 4:12 PM on February 9, 2005

Right now I'm not working very hard at all; I have a "workload deficiency" which is a whole other topic. But when I have a big project I hit it hard, do my eight hours and go home. I rarely work overtime. So many of my co-workers think nothing of working 50, 60 or even more hours per week. Screw that. In the 7 years I've been at my current company, I've probably worked 12 hours of overtime, usually around deadline time. And about 8 of those I was able to "flex" out in the same pay period so I didn't "lose" them. I'm on salary but even so, I wouldn't work much overtime if I was paid hourly. I've got better things to do.
posted by friarjohn at 4:13 PM on February 9, 2005

The job that I do is busy in fits and starts -- for me, the mornings are pretty slack, but then the mail comes around noon and it's pretty flat out til five. Some days, it's flat out all day, and with tax season, it's about to be that way all the time. I tend to work best when I can take one or two minutes to check my email or read the news or something other than work in-between THINGS THAT MUST BE DONE NOW. I find that my brain parses information pertaining to what I was just doing while I'm "slacking" and this helps me personally to be a better doer of what I do. But, I was like that in school, too, so I'm not surprised. I enjoy it when I have a lot to do. I feel accomplished. I will come in early, I will work late, I will do whatever I have to do to get it done well and right the first time, but I do not feel badly about giving my brain time to relax.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:37 PM on February 9, 2005

we must note, of course, that the responses in this thread will be biased towards the kind of people who have time to read metafilter. Folks who are working twelve hour days will never read this thread, and hence never respond.

still, an interesting question. thanks.

last year i worked like a demon for three months and then took the rest of the year off. it worked for me then but this year i'm changing things up, working on a full-time gig.
posted by Jonasio at 5:47 PM on February 9, 2005

I sometimes feel guilty that I'm not always "working" for all of the 40 hours a week I'm paid for. But this is balanced by the fact that at times I am working 50+ hours a week to get ready for a big event or finish a project. I figure that things work themselves out okay, and that if there was 40 hours of work for me to do every week I would know.
posted by Coffeemate at 6:39 PM on February 9, 2005

The answers you get here are going to be corrupted by self-selection. No one who isn't a slacker posts to Metafilter.

I do know some true work fiends who sometimes ask me to send them interesting links. I try to just point them to Metafilter and they tell me that they don't have the time. Worker bees do exist, and they're enviable, but they're not here.

Oh, and even if you did have true workaholics around here, most of them would still call themselves slackers. Everyone thinks that they're a procrastinator (I've rarely met anyone who didn't think they were one), even when by most people's standards they are thoroughly obsessed with their jobs.

Anyway, to answer your question: yes, I'm a slacker.
posted by painquale at 6:55 PM on February 9, 2005

I spend most of my workdays attempting to remain in my chair for enough hours out of the day that they don't feel the pressing need to outright fire me. I have been placed in a position, over time and by chance, where I am the only one who knows how to do my job, so firing me outright is not an attractive option for my superiors. I use this fact to my advantage constantly, and therefore take lengthy lunch breaks and often spend my entire day puttering around on the internet. I don't socialize with my co-workers or my boss despite their repeated attempts, because I usually feel as though I am in some low-budget remake of Office Space. My only job satsfaction comes from writing snide emails in veiled language to incoming students (I work at a university) when they ask a particularily dumb question. But more often I stare at the blue page that is MeFi (my boss has to wonder what the hell this site is that I spend so much time on) and let my brain slowly turn into a pile of mush. Mmmmmm...mush.
posted by rooftop secrets at 7:05 PM on February 9, 2005

Don't get me started...

Imagine you are a grad student. Imagine your research is on Metafilter. Imagine how much work you would actually get done.

posted by Quartermass at 7:14 PM on February 9, 2005

When I had a job I hated, I slacked. Now that I have a job I love, I work hard, but since I work at home, I can work whichever hours suit: noon-4; 8-10; midnight-2; whatever.
posted by dame at 7:25 PM on February 9, 2005

Ahh, for anonymous answering capabilities.

You are not alone.

Finding a job where you enjoy actually doing the work can be an amazing productivity booster. And while there are not enough of these jobs to go around for everyone in the world, let some other sap be an unhappy pencil pusher, and be thrilled you are not a coal-miner.

I would guess that if you are sharp enough to make your employer happy at 10% productivity, you are sharp enough to find a more rewarding job.
posted by mzurer at 7:31 PM on February 9, 2005

My last job was working in the network operations department of a datacenter that provided real-time stock market data from over 130 stock markets around the world. Surprisingly, it didn't require a lot of work. I likened it to being a firefighter, where I would spend most of my time idling, waiting for the big fire to happen, at which time I went berserk for a little while.

So, in essence, I didn't work hard at all most of the time, but when there was work it had to be done right now, until it was DONE.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:43 PM on February 9, 2005

If my boss is reading this, I posted it during my lunch break while I was waiting for two things to compile and a DVD to finish burning.

More seriously, I work damn hard when there's a problem or during one of our three known peak periods. I develop heavily off the back of the peak periods, but once I've made enough changes for a bit (almost every advance I design means one or more other staff members have to learn a new way to do something) and everything's running smoothly I tend to switch to reactive mode.

I'd like to be slack, but even when I'm "off peak" I'm usually exploring speculative projects with the possibility of high returns in productivity increases. A couple of those come off and all that attempted slacking suddenly becomes highly effective.
posted by krisjohn at 9:20 PM on February 9, 2005

we must note, of course, that the responses in this thread will be biased towards the kind of people who have time to read metafilter.

I refute the premise that those who read Metafilter have the time to read Metafilter.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 1:05 AM on February 10, 2005

I love my work. and I work hard. Getting home after a 12 hour shift in the ED, I am usually still slightly sweaty from the sheer physical exertion on the job. I often stagger in, shower, and fall into bed. In my pre-sleep moments, I often review how I might have done things better. There's no slacking when taking care of sick and injured people.

And.... when i'm off.. i'm OFF. i don't think about work at all. I design my work schedule to max both the time I work, and the time i don't. Right now it's four 12 hour shifts a week; when this gig is done, I'll not work for several months.. until i need an infusion of cash again.

I totally agree that it's all about whether or not you love what you're doing, but being smart about maxing yourself out is a good idea. I have time to work intensely and focus hard on the job i do, AND read metafilter, be slack, or whatever else i choose.
posted by reflecked at 4:36 AM on February 10, 2005

I'm so jealous. I'm (mostly) a waitress, so long shifts with a 20-minute break and no down time. Even if it's not busy, there's always work to be done. I'm 21, so I try to convince myself that everyone has to do these jobs for awhile and that eventually I'll have a wonderful job with a chair and internet access and time to slack off and read whenever I want. Bliss.
posted by eatcherry at 5:19 AM on February 10, 2005

I work on a helpdesk so I'm logged into a phone all day. It doesn't stop. God forbid I take my FLSA guaranteed 15 minute paid breaks, lest I get yelled at. The surveillance is so high, that you have to be a hard worker or at least give the appearance of doing some sort of busy work even when there is downtime, or you get threatened with replacement.

I'm trying to get out of the support ghetto and actually move into project work. 8 hours a day all my work is 'things that have to be fixed RIGHT NOW'. There's zero sense of any real accomplishment, just burnout.

I envy those who have jobs where the phone doesn't ring all day. I envy those who can sit in their own office/cube and work independently.
posted by pieoverdone at 6:03 AM on February 10, 2005

The answers you get here are going to be corrupted by self-selection. No one who isn't a slacker posts to Metafilter.

Nah-ah. I post here a lot, and I post on two other blogs, read the news, and check e-mail throughout the day. I'm not a slacker, because I get a lot done and meet my deadlines. However, I realized long ago that by working with intense focus for three, maybe four hours over the course of a day, I could accomplish as much or more as people who worked for 8 hours straight but worked more slowly, made decisions more slowly, and spent a lot of time talking and hanging out by the copier. When I'm at my desk, which is often, my work is mostly writing, reading, and phone and e-mail communication. By hammering out that stuff quickly for 50 minutes, I can easily spare 10 minutes an hour to browse around a few favorite sites.

Much of my schedule demands running or sitting in on meetings, and I find it pretty impossible to slack in meetings or work sessions with others.

But when I'm pacing my own work on discretionary time, I definitely allow for off-task behavior. My brain works well this way. When I turn back to the job at hand, I'm refreshed, and I don't feel like I've sacrificed my humanity to my job.
posted by Miko at 6:27 AM on February 10, 2005

I don't have the qualifications for any sort of interesting work. Lately I've been spending less than 1/3 of my working hours actually working, and the rest surfing MeFi or studying Japanese, because I crave stimulation. I still manage to get enough done to keep my job, but I'm far from fulfilled.

Was actually thinking about posting an AskMe question about my situation, but I don't know what good I'd expect to come of it.

On preview: some of what Miko said.
posted by squidlarkin at 8:25 AM on February 10, 2005

My level of slack is directly proportional to how much I actually give a damn about what I'm working on.

If I don't find a challenge, or I'm cleaning up someone else's mess, or something like that, then I have no motivation and I slack. Hard. I've gone months without doing any real work, though I normally manage to finish the crap jobs in their time frame - they are, after all, generally not challenging and I can't fathom why anyone would want me to do the task in the first place.

Quite simply, I refuse to do junk work. I am not a junior employee hungry to make a name for themselves by doing anything. I feel that I've proven myself time and again and if my employer pisses me off, and I get pissed off pretty damn quick, and because I'm passive agressive, I slack rather than blow up in their face. Bring it on. Fire my ass.

On the other hand, the complete opposite is also true. If I enjoy what I'm doing, who I'm doing it for, and I believe in the reason for the activity, then I hardly come up for air. I'll work 16-18 hours/day simply because I can't fathom doing anything else but this really awesome job. I go above and beyond what is needed to get the job done. There is no obstacle I won't remove, work around, or crush. I prefer to work this way, but I'd say that at least 80% of my life is slack because I just don't have the motivation to work harder.
posted by C.Batt at 9:14 AM on February 10, 2005

When I was a waitress, I worked ALL the time. No breaks, barely time to eat a snack while standing up and waiting for the pie to warm in the microwave during an eight hour shift. That job was easily twice as much work as any other I've had in terms of being constantly busy. At the time, it made sense because I was young and lacked skills and experience and could make the most money waiting tables.

Now that I am teaching children, it varies a bit more. During times when I am actually teaching or tutoring, my total attention is required, but during prep times I can get away with checking the mail, chatting or whatever, as long as the lesson gets prepped.

Of course, I am mostly a student so the majority of my life is spent putting off schoolwork.
posted by mai at 3:12 PM on February 10, 2005

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