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The Other 9 to 5


Back in college, my dorm room was decorated by many different items: a poster of Tupac, a sketch by Leonardo DaVinci's and a road sign I had previously commandeered. One addition I made to it mid-year was a Coors Light ad I clipped from a magazine, not because of my undying love for the beer but because of the imagery and message. It had four or five guy friends huddled together looking content among each other saying, "Here's to the other 9 to 5". For me it captured the importance of investing in good friends and good times. Its not something to be squeezed in but rather taken as seriously as a job. Framing up fun in a work context makes it fit in well with one of our cultural mantras, "work hard, play hard".

But one of the things I've been thinking about recently is, what does it mean to work hard? Does it mean to work all day long? Does it mean to work in a quiet place without distractions? And how hard do I have to work in order to play hard? In "Lazy: A Manifesto", author Tim Kreider says at one point, "Like most writers, I feel like a reprobate who does not deserve to live on any day that I do not write, but I also feel like 4 or 5 hours is enough to earn my stay on the planet for one more day". [this 13 minute audio recording of the manifesto is worth the listen]

So I come back again to how much do I need to work to earn my stay on this planet for another day? Is there a ratio? Is it 8 hours of work plus an hour of commuting plus any required errands or chores? Can I have fun then? What if five of the eight hours I worked were just meetings rather than the work itself? Should I now have to work late? I showed up for work. What happened to the play hard part?

We say "work hard, play hard" but are we living it? Play will obviously look different from person-to-person but how much does each of us owe it to ourselves to ensure we achieve that play part of our day or week? I don't wish to shirk my professional responsibilities or let my team down. I am only left asking, "where is the balance? Is balance a myth? Is it something I have to resolve to create for myself?"

Go Forth Boldly

"The really efficient laborer will be found not to crowd his day with work, but will saunter to his task surrounded by a wide halo of ease and leisure. There will be a wide margin for relaxation to his day. He is only earnest to secure the kernels of time, and does not exaggerate the value of the husk. Why should the hen set all day? She can lay but one egg, and besides she will not have picked up materials for a new one. Those who work much do not work hard"

Henry David Thoreau


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