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How Work ‘Should’ Be…

By: Everett S

Rabbit TracksI have to admit I was a little upset about all the work I put into the new site not getting the reception I’d hoped for. In the end, I’m sure it will all work out. But right now I just want to tell a little story about how my life is different now than it was a year ago.

There have always been days at the office when I just wasn’t “feeling it”. You know the days… when you come in and check email, do a few routine tasks, check email, social media sites, read the news, check email again… or whatever other ritualistic time-wasters you have? A year ago I had to suffer through those. A year ago, I had to sit in a cubicle staring at a gray-carpet wall because – well because it was during business hours. After all, what else could I do? I had to have a job and if they needed me to be there at a certain time, then that’s what I had to do.

But not today.

Today I couldn’t get my mind focused on work-work because it was moving over to this blog. I didn’t want to work on the blog because I was supposed to be working for pay; but I couldn’t work for pay because I had something else on my mind. In short, it was “one of those days”. I wasn’t “feeling it”. Rather than wasting my time and, more importantly in this case, my boss’ money – I walked away from my desk for the second half of the afternoon and didn’t return until after 6pm, at which time I was totally in the zone, being productive, focused on my job, and creative in my work. I didn’t need to ask for permission. I didn’t need to fill out any time-off paperwork, clock out, or anything other than let a few people know I wasn’t going to be available for awhile.

how work should be post imageDuring that four hour break I did several things. I fed the chickens, chopped some wood, gathered kindling, dumped out the ashes (after using Darren’s trash can tip and letting them sit for several days), and took Clyde for a walk across my neighbor’s field. It was this last event that brought me into the zone, I think. The chores just prepared me to be there… or, more precisely, to be then.

Me and Clyde (pictured here on a much warmer day), started off up the road when he became distracted by some rabbit tracks in the snow leading into our neighbor’s field. “Why not let a dog be a dog for awhile,” I thought. We’re on good terms with our neighbors so Clyde and I went between some barbed-wire and followed this rabbit’s track for about fifteen minutes through bushes, groves of trees, along the banks of a creek, and finally back up to the road.

It wasn’t a life changing experience or anything, and we didn’t catch a rabbit for supper. There isn’t going to be a “how to skin a rabbit” post later this week. But it did remind me how lucky I am to be here, doing what I do, where I do it, when I feel like doing it. Like a previous, similar experience here on the farm – it reminded me to stop sweating the small stuff.

And I’m sure my boss would be happy to know I came back into the house, stoked the fire, put on some coffee, and was 110% focused on my job for the next several hours. Zero distractions.

I say let people work when the WANT to work. If you have people who don’t ever “want” to work, then you’re just hiring the wrong people. Hire adults and treat them as such. That’s the way to run a business. Maybe it wouldn’t work in all situations (manufacturing and construction, or things that require customer service, to name a few) but it could work out in more situations than you might think. Don’t take it just from me. Watch this video from Ted Talks. It’s Jason Fried on Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work:

Creative Commons License Post top photo credit: edenpictures

Category: Rants, Simple Thoughts, The Transplants, Uncategorized, Videos

Comments (17)

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  1. Jes Worth says:

    Glad you’re feeling a bit more sane. You seemed to be getting rather stressed earlier. Chopping wood is a good way to let stuff go, always works for me…..and walks are good.

  2. TW says:

    I agree, people should work when they are most productive wherever that is humanly possible. I work at home for one of the tech biggies, managing processes for a global team. One of the first things I negotiated with my boss was that I was most productive in the very early mornings, and that I would take a chunk of time off in the middle of the day to work out, defrazzle, and come back for a few hours in the afternoon. So my day starts at 5 am, ends about 4, and I take three hours off (sometimes together, sometimes in between virtual meetings) during the day.

    Hard to find a job that will let you do that. Even harder to find a boss that can handle it, because they have to move away from a process orientation toward a results orientation. While I’m fully aware of how fortunate I am to be able to make my own schedule, not to mention be able to stay in my pajamas while fully participating in the business world, I also know I worked hard to get here and I prove every day I deserve to continue.

    I produce more and better results now than I ever have, and I know that’s due to being able to work when I am most productive.

  3. Ed says:

    I’ve been following you site for a few months. I like the changes….

    I used to work at a botanical garden. Ay days that got rough or I wasn’t focused for work, I would take a walk around the gardens. The walking plus the sites sure did a soul good. I usually came back focused and with energy. Nature…it’s a good thing!

  4. Anna says:

    That talk really reminded me of all the things I hated about having a job… :-)

    It was useful, though, because I tend to break our work days up into relatively short segments. This month, though, we’ve been taking a “Day of Autonomy” once a week where we both just work on whatever grabs our interest all day, and those big tracts of unbroken time have been _very_ useful. Definitely a good way to get writing projects done.

  5. Everett says:

    TW thanks for mentioning us on your blog, by the way. A link is always nice, but hey we’ll take what we can get! It took awhile for me to find the right work situation too. Sometimes upper management just can’t handle, as you say, a “results” oriented work arrangement. I find that funny since it’s what we’ve been doing with sales people and contractors for years and years. If it works for a contractor who has no affinity or passion for your business, why couldn’t it work for someone who truly cares about their job?

    I’m glad you’ve found a situation that lets you work on your own schedule from home. While still a minority, I hear about more and more people working this out all the time.

    ED – I’m glad you like the changes. Thanks! I went for a walk in a botanical garden in North Carolina once when I had arrived early for a meeting. It was very nice walking through the gardens – especially since they had a section just for food.

    Anna – I have no idea how you find the time to do all the writing you do. But if you’ve found even more time to do it then you should try pulling rabbits out of hats for a living. You’d be good at it!

  6. Andrea says:

    I like the background photo, especially the kitty being a kitty. Maybe it’s obvious but one of the reasons people read your blog is to escape/check out another lifestyle/learn more/see what you two are up to… The background photo gives a sense of space, context, very grounding, expansive. Hell, I’d like to know what the farm looks like right now… Vignettes… Even if it’s muddy boots at the back door…

    In the Berkshires, I used to walk in the woods with a friend who had a supersize poodle, very big strong dog. And Sudhir would always say it’s important to let a dog be a dog. That’s always struck me. When I first moved back to Colorado, my dad didn’t know what to think of Beau. He never was a pet person (had 7 brothers and sisters and the pets would run away)… Anyway, the first time he saw Beau off leash in the mountains, he was amazed. And now Beau is his buddy for hiking and snowshoeing. I think he’s learned to be in nature differently by being with Beau. I know it changed things for me.

    As far as work, the not working with your natural rhythm I totally get. The uncertainty of freelancing was very stressful for me, but I do miss going with my own rhythm.

  7. TracyDK says:

    I’m really liking how the site is coming about. Thank you for listening to my feedback in the last post. It isn’t so overwhelming any longer. :) And I’m sorry you started stressing about the blog. There’s something to be said about physical labor that the white collar group doesn’t think about any longer. It’s very important at relieving stress. And once your chores were done (physical labor) and a brief walk (clears the mind), you could focus. I agree people would be more productive when they are able to work when they are at their best, rather than by a timeclock.

  8. Everett says:

    Andrea, I totally agree about animals changing our perspective on nature. If not for Clyde, I would have stayed on the road yesterday. It was his “nosing around” that led us into the fields and streams.

    I’ll try and get some more photos up of what’s going on around here. Right now we’re finalizing the insulation of the back room, which has a very cabin-like feel to it. I can’t wait to fire up the wood stove tonight and test out the new insulation in 20 degree weather with snow falling!

    I don’t really do much freelancing. My job is salary with healthcare and all. I had to find something like that because, like you, I think freelancing adds a whole different level of stress and complexity sometimes.

    Tracy – When I lived in Hawaii I had a watch with a glass top but no insides. Below the glass was just my wrist. People would ask why I wore it and I’d say it was to remind me to be on “Hawaiian time”. 😀

  9. Chris Besett says:

    Hey Everett, congrats on the new site. I also agree with your work time assessment. I think as the industrial revolution came about it took people out of their natural cycles of work and creation into a strict and possibly unnatural regimen dictated by a corporation or company.

    And since we worked together at the same company I know exactly what you mean. So much of modern employee behavior seems to be born out of “work-like” posturing in order to achieve something other than actual productivity. It’s like forcing someone to eat when they aren’t hungry.

  10. Everett says:

    “Like forcing someone to eat when they aren’t hungry”. and “work-like posturing”. Great ways of putting it.

  11. Andrea says:

    Besett: Great phrases.

  12. Una Morera says:

    hi E.
    great post.
    thanks!
    una

  13. akyra says:

    OMG I have those days all the time. I have so many ideas running through my mind all the time – but idea for home, not work. Makes it tough! btw, just found your website!

  14. Jayme says:

    Hello there! Found your website tonight, searching for ‘simple living blogs’ and I’ve been reading in earnest. I must say – perhaps I’m more simple minded than most – but I’m having trouble wrapping my head around your term ‘rethinking voluntary complexity’. I have been talking about ‘self imposed poverty’ on my blog lately – and a few people seem to find that term offensive, and perhaps I need to rephrase it, because living this way is anything but poverty to me…..wish we could have a cup of coffee and chat a while – I’ll be back as often as I can. Thanks for sharing your thoughts so candidly.

  15. Everett says:

    Una, Thanks! How have you been? I’m heading over to your site in a few to see what’s going on.

    Akyra, welcome! I hope you come back to visit again you Hippie Geek Farmer.

    Jayme, glad you found us. I’ll check out your Tales from the Coop Keeper too. Clever name! As for Rethinking Voluntary Complexity, it means that we think we (as in human beings) are voluntarily complicating our lives without getting any more happiness back in return. And we are merely “rethinking” the things we choose to bring into our lives that are supposed to simplify life and make it easier, and more enjoyable. To a point, certain technologies, things, inventions… HAVE made our lives better. Without the Internet, for instance, I’d probably be working in a city somewhere. And we wouldn’t be communicating like this. Without medical advancements (mostly in medical devices and surgeries, not boner pills and diet drugs) a lot of us would die sooner and lead less active lives. BUT… maybe we wouldn’t need so much sick-care if we were out chopping wood more and sitting in an office chair, or standing on a factory line less. Maybe in order to live in the country and still have a job, high-speed internet wouldn’t be a prerequisite if we hadn’t sold our rural economies to the lowest corporate or international bidder?

    Our life choices are filtered through the lens of a couple who wants to live a simple, happy life. Therefore, we do not want to voluntarily complicate our lives. We keep asking ourselves the same questions as we go, and sometimes get different answers. But “asking” them in the first place is the most important part for us because it means we are living our lives consciously – the way WE want to live our lives, not how anyone else tells us our lives “should” be lived.

    Eventually if I keep down this path I’ll talk about planned obsolescence, food production, consumerism, supply chains, logistics, politics, religion, community, etcetera, etcetera… But in order to keep myself from ranting and otherwise carrying on like a pretentious jerk cliche (see above paragraphs)… I simply leave it as: We’re questioning the concept of voluntary complexity.

  16. Pea says:

    Have loved moseying to your site on and off for a while but have only just seen the changes. I like ’em! I know it has been simplified and tweaked somewhat from your last post so I didn’t see all that.
    Ads? I saw some folk didn’t like them but there’s not too many and even simple folk gots to pay the rent!
    The background pic gives it a nice countrified edge and it still retains a clean, simple look.

    At the end of the day I believe most folk come here for you and Mrs Simpleton (when did you start using your own names??!!) and we come for snippets of your lovely homestead living. As long as that weaves generously through any other changes the majority of us will probably be happy.

  17. If only there were more bosses out there who worked on the principles “job well done so go home now thankyou so much!” SIGH we hear the nation of employees say…

    Your so right about getting out in nature to relieve some stress so that you can return and see a new perspective on the tasks that need to be done. It’s a sort of spiritual charge of beautiful energy and we all need that regularly. Sadly not many peolple get it. Some think that they are relaxing watching the TV and all the stuff that is brainwashing them and subtly increasing stress levels because they arent thinking for themselves anymore. Basically their senses are dead for a while whilst being programed by the programs they are watching. AND then they don’t want to work let alone getting anything substantial done.
    Oh If I’m off at a tangent tick me off by all means lol :-)

    Your dog is beautiful. I have two little jack russels Penny and Tuppence and when I feel stressed ( and even when I’m not stressed out) out we go for big long walks and runs on local land along the River Dee behind my house. You cant beat it! Get in the rythm….

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