When I hear someone celebrated as ‘extremely dedicated and hard-working’ because ‘his car is the first in the car-park every morning and the last to leave most evenings’, as demonstration of his dedication and work ethic, I cringe.
Not because I question whether or not the person being celebrated is dedicated or hard working but because I am calling BS on the Myth that the amount of hours you are in the office - as evidenced by your car in the car park / coat hanging on the coat stand, or door ajar so as to evidence your presence inside for everyone walking by - has anything to do with how hard-working or dedicated you are.
I want to celebrate people who are doing incredible things in their work-places but give me something legit to celebrate! Let me whoop , hoot and holler for their outputs - which clients they wowed and how, which specific traits they possess that are a delight and a pleasure to witness in a colleague, say what their staff who love working with them said about them, give me an example of where they showed up heart and soul! Say ALL of this but don't tell me where their car was parked and for how long
In many workplaces ‘hard working’ and ‘dedicated’ are synonymous with ‘putting in the hours’, and I think that this Myth - or let's just say what it really is, this collective brain error - is responsible for low productivity, inefficiency, lack of engagement, missed opportunities for spending time with loved ones, an unshakeable sense of guilt and in some cases, even burn-out.
In a culture where we don’t clock in-clock out but demonstrate how we have been valuable to our firm by filling out time-sheets in hourly increments and where we bill clients ‘by the hour’, it’s not difficult to see where this brain error originates. In theory, hours worked should be a measure of how much work was done. But they aren’t, because our traditional system of chargeability has an in-built underlying assumption that when someone is at work, they are working the whole time through.
I know from personal experience that this not true and I have a hunch that you also know this assumption is false
It is completely possible to do more in 4 hours in the office than someone else does in 10.
1. You plan your work day in half hour increments, based on the output you want to achieve, this includes setting up meetings in an extremely output focused, agenda driven way
2. You get to work with no distractions and no excuses
- NO distractions means
- Don’t check your email when it pings
- Don’t answer your phone every time it rings
- Don’t linger at the coffee machine / chat / hang around at the end of meetings
- Not just ordering 'one thing' online when it comes into your head
- No replying to DMs as they come in
- Not 'jumping in' to attend a meeting on behalf of someone else because they asked you to
- No other online shenanigans like checking weather, news or other social media - that includes LinkedIN - ‘that’s work, right?’ It’s social media, my friend. That means - go on there and spend time if you want, but just make sure you have planned time to do so
The fact is, many of us are very often distracted, resulting in us not really taking responsibility for how we use our time. Not taking responsibility for how we use our time has us in a permanent state of ‘switched-on ‘ness’’, which is exhausting and taking up more head space, time and energy than we even realise.
The sentence ‘they spend so many hours at work every day because they are incredibly hard-working and dedicated’ could just as easily be:
‘they spend so many hours at work every day because they:
- are incredibly disorganised; or
- take no responsibility for how they use time and often, their meetings run over by oodles, they regularly cancel, reschedule, or arrive late to meetings; or
- are plagued by an escapable bad conscience or guilt which they accommodates by working late every night, or answering non-urgent emails throughout the evening from their sofa; or
- really enjoy the social aspect of work and are happy to give many hours a day to this side of work; or
- spend a lot of time watching youtube videos; or
- procrastinate a lot and spend time on 'easy-win' work; or
It MAY also be that they are producing output that is incredibly focused, high quality work but it is not a given and to assume that they are, is to to perpetuate a myth that is not serving the way we work and which is preventing us, in many cases from living lives that we absolutely love at work and at home. As leaders, we need to take responsibility for doing this.
Thinking and speaking this way perpetuates this way of thinking for the next generation who are listening, watching and taking all their cues from us.
This week, I would love for you to really, seriously think about what you believe being at work for many hours a day says about you or someone else?
Are you subconsciously subscribing to the belief that the more hours you are visible / around / available…the better, even though you intellectually believe that it isn't?
Our beliefs, including the Myths and brain errors that we subscribe to are driving the way we show up every single day. It's one thing to get intellectually that you are being driven by these outdated beliefs but it's another thing completely to really stop believing something that many people around you still believe.
If you want to get serious about digging up what it is you're thinking and how that looks in your day to day, we should talk. Schedule your free consultation here.