Working Too Much or Not Enough? [en]

[fr] J'ai souvent du mal à savoir si je travaille trop ou pas assez. Mon entourage me donne les deux retours.

I’m very bad at evaluating how much I work. Not in the sense that I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent in the office or on a given project (I know how to look at the clock and add up, even if I don’t usually bill for my time) — but more as in I don’t really know if I’m slacking or “working hard”.

There are days where I feel that I have been working hard for weeks or months. But then there are others where I look at my lifestyle and find it pretty relaxed, overall.

People around me also have differing opinions: sometimes I get the feedback that I should take my work more seriously (“work harder!”) and sometimes — more often, I have to admit — I get amazement or admiration for the amount of things I’m doing.

I guess this ambivalence in my auto-evaluation reflects an ambivalence in my attitude towards work. Part of me has a heavy workaholic streak (I can get “lost” in work easily, and tend to be a little obsessive and perfectionist, which results in difficulty stopping once I get started) but another part of me strongly resists working a lot and wants to have free time and a leisurely pace of life (that was already the case when I was in school: good enough grades, but never really liked studying too hard).

And in the end, what is working “enough”? I think there are cultural standards here, and that “working hard” in the US (for example) is not exactly the same thing as “working hard” here in Europe.


5 thoughts on “Working Too Much or Not Enough? [en]

  1. I should say it depends a lot if you are a smoker / coffee addict / Facebook and twitter fanatic or not 🙂

    About “working hard”, this is not only cultural but also personal: a feeling you have. In all case, working hard includes two notions: time and work itself. If you’re finishing a 30 hours job in 10 hours, yes, you can say: I’ve worked hard and be happy if your job is satisfying you.

    As an example (I am French) : I had 5 weeks of holidays, in Florida I have just 2 weeks, I had 35 hours in France (lunch time is not included, it equals 40 hours a week at work) while here I am at work 38 hours.

    It means in less time in France we have to be as productive as in the United States. Our work is more condensed. We can consider we are “working harder” and are really busy.

    I think this feeling is around a question of density of work and personal satisfaction. I hope my comment makes sense.

  2. Steph, like you I am having a hard time finding a common denominator for European’s views on working hard (we’re so different, I wonder if TX people are that different from, say, folks from New Jersey .. OK, I am joking).

    It’s something very personal (like some people prefer to work in burst mode, while others enjoy their senseless busyness) and the sole reasonable indicator may be your personal sense of well-being. No need to measure it against whatever “norm” or “set of expectations” others than your own.

  3. Bonjour, je ne suis pas très habituée des comments, j’espère donc être synthétiquement compréhensible. Il me semblerait que l’opinion des autres dépend tant de leur valeurs, de leurs espoirs, idéaux et regards comparatifs de eux à toi/autrui. Donc extrêment variable et sujet à caution. De plus j’imagine qu’il y a effectivement des jours productifs quantitativement et d’autres où l’esprit vagabonde (not hard) et prépare le qualitatif futur. Pour moi, l’avantage essentiel à ton mode de vie, le mien aussi, est sans doute la possibilité de choix, certes relative parfois (loyer, repas, suivi du chat), mais malgré tout permettant une sorte de navigation hebdomadaire entre “hard, less hard, not hard”. Bonne suite.

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