@TylerOsby asked a question this morning on Twitter – “how long do you work every day?”  Apropos of this, I also read an article this morning by Tim Ferriss, who wrote The 4-Hour Work Week, about how he works, um, 4 hours a week.  Obviously.  But anyway, what I found was that I could not give a straight answer to Tyler’s question.  I’ve had trouble with this for a while, and it’s getting worse.

On the surface, it seems simple.  You work when you’re working, and you aren’t working when you’re not working.  Oh, if only.  Here’s an example: right now, am I working?

I don’t know.

The blog, in general, is a marketing vehicle to let people know that I have a certain level of expertise in mortgages.  I do.  In fact, I’m very good at them.  I’ve been doing them a long time, in several capacities, and I understand them well from many sides.  But the part of this blog that establishes that credibility is primarily the RateWatch segment, which I love, but which this post is not.  So is this post work or not?

Um.

There’s so much more.  In 20 minutes, I’m meeting with Nathan Larsen from Classic Books and Gifts to talk about a really innovative book contest we’re putting together.  There is practically no chance that this contest will pay me any money, though it is about 90% certain that I’m going to be headmanning it.  It will take volumes of time and some money.  Is the meeting work?  It will be benefitting the bookstore.  It will employ (eventually) many people.  It has lots of outgrowth possibilities that could make many of the people I know better off.  It’s also fun.  So what is this meeting?  Work?

I’m going out to garden at some point today.  Is that work?  I spent half an hour reading articles this morning and some of those led to this post.  Was that work?

I know there’s all this fancy talk about balance these days, how to balance your professional and personal life, how to balance family with work, how to keep your different compartments separate and weighing about the same.  Perhaps it’s just me, but I find that philosophy so stupid my eyes cross.  I can’t for one second separate all the different parts of my life.  Practically no activity that I engage in has no spiritual component.  Practically every activity has some family aspect.  When I’m with my family, much of the time, my phone is on and on my hip.  Am I working?  I’m on call.  Isn’t that working?  On the other hand, when I’m sitting in the office, often I’m discussing the Jazz with my brother.  Is that working?

Much of what I do every day produces no direct financial benefit.  Nearly everything I do EVERY day produces some indirect financial benefit, and the part that doesn’t produces other kinds of benefits in friendships, quality of life, larger vegetables, and suchlike.  It’s not a job, that’s for sure.  But isn’t “work” the thing you add to the universe to stop it from going straight to crap?  Am I not ALWAYS working?

I need help here, obviously.

So I told Tyler that my first communication with the outside world happens between 6:30 and 7am, and my last communication between 6pm and 11pm, depending on the day, which was true but not what he asked.  He responded that that was a long day.  I replied that everyone’s day is that long; mine just has more in it than most people’s.  I got the sense, though, that that wasn’t very satisfying to him.  It wasn’t all the way for me, either.

Can you help?

One Response to “”

  • I think you’re absolutely right. Everyone’s day is the same length. The question is what do you do with it?

    For me the separation is a lot more distinct than it is for you, but there’s still cross over, I learn things at work that I can use to help my family, I’ve definitely taken advantage of having a doctor stuck with my company to pump them for free medical advice and the fact that I’m a mother has absolutely affected how I’ve done some of the things I’ve done at work.

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that not all “work” is something you get paid for, heaven knows raising kids is a lot of work and I have yet to get a check for it. I think it is important to not spend all your time “working” (for you, doing mortgages) but let’s face it, everything we do is work, of some kind or another.

    If you’re still worried about yourself in particular, let me be the first to say that you strike a very nice balance.

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