So you think you work hard?

This is almost the title of Lucy Kellaway’s column in today’s FT about working hours. It makes interesting reading.\r\n\r\nA summary is that most of us overestimate the amount of TIME we say we work in a week. We simply don’t do the number of hours productive work we say we do.\r\n\r\nApparently the amount we overestimate is related to two main factors. The first is our seniority – the more senior we are the more we exaggerate. For example a doctor overestimates more than a nurse, a lawyer more than a paralegal. This has been proved by research undertaken by professors in Oxford and Maryland.\r\n\r\nThe second factor is, ironically, the number of hours we work: the longer we work in a week the more we exaggerate the number of hours we think we have worked. For example, if we have worked 37 hours we are likely to overestimate an additional 3 hours and say we’ve worked 40 hours. But if we work 50 hours we can easily claim we work 75 hours, not because we are intentionally lying, but simply because we misconceive our working week due probably to overwork.\r\n\r\nThe professors suggest two reasons for this exaggeration: if we perceive our work as important we then overestimate our involvement in it; and if we see work as a badge of honour we tend to overestimate the time we have put into it.\r\n\r\nI read Ms Kellaway’s article this morning after a gentle workout in the gym. Later in the day I read Abbot Jamison’s chapter on Pride where surprisingly he also adds a slant on working hours. Imagine if, when someone says they are busy, we say to them ‘Oh I’m sorry to hear that”. They would think we had misunderstood, because “being busy being important” is one manifestation of success in the busy culture we find ourselves living in.\r\n\r\nAbbot Jamison points out that hard work is not wrong, but excessive work which excludes other dimensions of life should be criticised. He goes further to say that it is possible that people who appear to be working hard are not doing so at all. Rather ‘their self-designation as busy is a self-important way of covering up their laziness and keeping the rest of life at bay.’ Bill Hybels makes a similar point when he says that extreme busyness can in fact be the dark side of ‘sloth’, a way of avoiding responsibilities that should be fulfilled but are instead slothfully neglected.\r\n\r\nOf course, whatever the reasons behind our exaggeration of the time we work, or even the excessive work we do, the fact is that the number of hours worked is not usually the correct measure of value. Even though I know this to be true I still frequently find it disconcerting when I reflect on my week and the low actual output achieved. I’m obsessive about measuring time, to the great bemusement of my (more casual) friends, and for as long as I can remember I have recorded my use of time on a daily basis. I know that almost without exception the time I spend on productive output or learning is far less than I imagined or hoped for.\r\n\r\nMs Kellaway finishes her article by noting that a successful writer friend, who never looks busy, when pressed said he worked about five hours a week. That sounds about right.

… a calm and joyful non-compliance with evil

I love this, from Dallas Willard:\r\n\r\n”Seeing God for who he is enables us to see ourselves for who we are.\r\n\r\n”This makes us bold, for we see what clearly what great good and evil are at issue, and we see that it is not up to us to accomplish it but up to God who is more than able. We are delivered from pretending, from being presumptuous about ourselves, and from pushing as if the outcome depended on us. \r\n\r\n”We persist without frustration.\r\n\r\n”We practice calm and joyful non-compliance with evil of any kind.\r\n\r\n”We will do the very best we know. We will work hard, even self-sacrificially, but we do not carry the load and our ego is not involved in any way with this mission and the ministry. In our love of Jesus and his Father we truly have abandoned our life to him.\r\n\r\n“Our life is not an object of deep concern any more.”\r\n\r\nDallas Willard: The Great Omission 

… and …

I thought I’d update my Linkedin profile. I haven’t paid it any attention for months, but I thought it might be worth improving if only on the grounds that it is another public representation of … me.\r\n\r\nIt was harder than I expected.\r\n\r\nMy friend Rob Hook from the Business Copilot asked\r\n\r\n”What’s your headline? The one thing you want to say about yourself? To put up front?”\r\n\r\nWell I don’t have one thing.\r\n\r\nPriest … AND … Painter … AND … Preacher …\r\n\r\nAND … Designer … AND … Vision Caster … AND … Administrator …\r\n\r\nAND … Counsellor … AND … manager AND … writer …\r\n\r\nAND … so on … AND … so on.\r\n\r\nTo be honest, it’s wearing trying to define each point of focus without loosing the other. It’s like having a target with multiple bullseyes.\r\n\r\nStill, it has to be done, because at the moment I’m floating somewhere between targets, let alone bullseyes, and I’m liable to hit nothing.\r\n\r\nMy Linkedin profile … here

The Character Habit

Your character is the sum total of your habits…

\r\n… suggests Rick Warren\r\n\r\nHe goes on to say:\r\n\r\n“There is only one way to develop the habits of Christlike character: You must practice them—and that takes time! There are no instant habits. Paul urged Timothy, “Practice these things. Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress.” (1 Timothy 4:15 GW)”