Working crazy hours
The flight from office to home for safety from coronavirus is a very two-edged event. Some people like working strict hours, maybe the morning, first thing, or after a post lunch fifteen minute nap. I like very early mornings, like one or two am, for my thinking work, with a little light classical music to create a mood. We’re all different and we all have different circumstances to cope with.
The people most affected by this change in the working system are the mothers of young children. The office gives them a space they can identify as their own, a time they can develop their career, and a chance to meet people who will discuss more than the latest baby fad or school innovation. Many women are now in key senior management jobs where their poise and stature are essential attributes to good people-handling. For all that they are still mothers with a strong instinct to be dutiful and protect and educate their young. Conducting an interview with a candidate for an important job is a critical skill. Doing so with a young child wanting to be part of the scene or a teenager needing help with their thesis for an upcoming exam is close to impossible. So what exactly is happening to help these mothers?
Husbands are a major factor and I see many couples where the husband does as much as the wife at home and where household jobs are not attributed so strictly to one or the other that cooperation becomes difficult. A good flexible working relationship has become a prerequisite to a happy home. To achieve that both parties have to be positively motivated. If they aren’t naturally so, they should seek help to change. The home couple relationship, whether heterosexual or otherwise, remains the key to continuity and vigour in the midst of disruption.
Once that is established much will follow automatically to make the home smooth and, above all, happy. But the other side of that coin is the changes we must expect to continue and possibly get even more disruptive. The internationalisation of so much work as trade agreements develop – even if they are not the only ones we would like to see – means working with other people’s time clocks as well as your own. Thinking in someone else’s time and with their priorities becomes second nature to you, if you accept the challenge.
DIstance learning already requires you to attend webinars at strange times to fit in with California or Melbourne. The ability to do so engenders a vigour all of its own. To take part in and influence the views of others who may, by your standards, be stuck in routines that are slavish and out of date, gives you the power to cope and a determination to enjoy that is difficult to find elsewhere. Even when you are old the race to learn a new series of routines invigorates you.
Handling the technologies that crowd in on us requires a steady head and a deft hand. Try pulling your regular work and domestic jobs into a series of discrete packages with as much of a timetable attributed to each as possible. The more of your life that can be ‘routine’ the better. After that you must make a few more packages, the most important of which is ‘attention to your partner’. To do this successfully you must judge how much attention your partner needs.
A “needy” partner may not be what you are looking for but just remember that you may have one. Devote as much time as you can to this critically important member of the team. And the second most important package is ‘attention to yourself’. Most people recognise the importance of this, some would say that it is their prime concern. I believe it comes after what I discussed in the last paragraph, but it is essential. Good opportunities are when you are traveling to and from work or meetings and, indeed, any time you are forced to be alone, including exercise.
Your disciplines are important to prevent you snatching at jobs and half finishing them. People call this ‘multi-tasking’ and we all have to do some of it. It is an inherently time-expensive way to work. Most jobs, even including the very routine, require mental prep time to get the mood right. A good way to approach this is to think about what you would be telling an early teenager about your travels and work. Build a story around the events that may seem mundane to you but are likely to be interesting to someone emerging into the thinking world.
Don’t deceive yourself – and certainly not others – but make your life the fascinating, daring adventure that it is. All our lives are at a chrysalis stage and we are permanently emerging from birth onwards to be the most beautiful, most delightful and most precious of all creation.
You work crazy hours to succeed. ‘The butterfly’ does emerge one day and the radiance of that achievement is the stuff of life. Where it endures, somewhere and somehow, we do not know. But when you reach the mountain peak it matters not what lies beyond.
You have reached your view. You have achieved.