Apr 07 2006
The headline on the Wall Street Journal technology section read, “Secrets of the tech-Savvy Traveler” and I realized we had lost the war to the machines. Actually, it runs deeper than that. We have lost the war to work.
Nowhere are we safe from work. Not at home. Not on vacation. Not even in the bathroom. Technology is such that we can take it with us everywhere, and probably to the grave, where I’m sure we can do it just as effectively, and maybe quicker.
“60 Minutes” just ran a piece called “Working 24/7,” and it said Americans work more hours than anyone on the planet, including the Japanese. And the Japanese used to work until one of their feet would fall off.
Why do we need to work so much? Are we working smarter, or are we just working more? Is technology improving our lives and making us more efficient, or is it simply bogging us down? Are there any solutions?
My friends, the answer is “yes,” and I’m here to tell you. Over the years, I have collected quite a bit of work management advice, and unlike others who make you pay for it, I intend to share mine for free. So clip this column out and try these steps:
• First off, ask yourself this simple question: Do we live to work, or do we work to live? Why this question? I have no idea. It honestly doesn’t make any sense to me. But, the lesson is if you’re asking yourself silly word riddles at work, you’re obviously not working. Ta-da! Try “To be or not to be?” That can take weeks.
• Take up smoke breaks. Not smoking, but smoke breaks. I used to know someone who didn’t smoke, but would religiously take 15 minutes every couple of hours to walk outside and get a breath of fresh air. I loved the irony.
• You don’t take your personal issues to work, so why do you take your work home to your personal issues? Think about that, and this: When it rains, you get out of the rain, right? You run for cover as fast as you can. Yet, at work, when the equivalent happens, do you adhere to the same principles? Maybe you should.
• If your boss wants you to start carrying a Blackberry, that device that lets you answer E-mail anywhere, tell him you’re allergic to fruit. This will buy you a little time, but when he inevitably says, “Wait a minute …”, follow up with, “I just remembered I left the oven and the iron on,” run out of the office and don’t return for three days. This will make him ask, “Do I really want to trust expensive equipment with this nut bag?” You’ll never hear about it again.
• If you’re stressed out, feeling a bit overworked and needing some time off, you can be “professional” about it and talk with your boss. Or, you can try a much more effective method: speaking in tongues. Nothing says “give the man some R&R” like mysterious jibber-jabber. Make up your own language, then throw out some of these odd-sounding words in the middle of meetings. When you’re asked to explain yourself, reply, “What strange talk?” pause 5 seconds and say something else. You could get hauled off in a straight jacket, but at least you won’t get any major projects for a while.
• Blame technology. Technology put us in this situation, so use it to your advantage. Don’t answer your cell phone and when someone asks you why they can’t get you, reply, “Stupid technology. Stickin’ it to me again!”
Try it. Try it all. You’ll see it really works, and you’ll be working 30-hour weeks in no time. And when you do, send $19.95 to me and I will share the rest of my “Work-free Life” secrets.