I was at the grocery the other day and I heard one worker asked another if they were on the clock. For some reason, it spurred some thoughts of my own.
I first was caught off guard by this seemingly small comment, because in my own head I was playing back an event from my current day at the work. What does being on the clock mean for me? For hourly workers, it’s clear. The thought I was playing with here was the idea that most people are usually on the clock most of the time.
Does our work even span futher into deeper spots of our minds? When you’re not at work, you may think of work, as I was, and you might also have work going on in your subconscious. Not necessarily stressful type events, it could even be positive things that you enjoy about your work.
There are many books on the procrastination and avoidance of work. I don’t aim to dive into that. I wanted to approach the idea from a stoic approach. Does work ‘work’ us by making think about it when we’re not doing it? If the mind were not consumed with work, what would we be doing otherwise?
In Meditations, Marcus states:
So you were born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?
That has sat deep with me lately, and I couldn’t stop from myself from exploring this idea of work being a dread. For some, their work is more thrilling than the warm bed. That is not to say, they do not still enjoy that. I am sure that is a natural instinct. What is the cause for that override in one’s mind?
It must drive further in, from the purpose center of the brain and the being. When someone can turn their work into a form of play, and others cannot, we must ask what that driving force is. By understanding it, we may understand ourselves, and empower others to help themselves. “What is good for the hive is good for the bee”.
Is this mindset really everything? Certainly it is not constant and certainly ebbs and flows, as is nature. As Epictetus states, “there is nothing good or evil save in the will”. Is work a negative thing while pleasure is good? The ying in the yang for happiness is sadness, so then the ying in work must have the yang in relaxation.
In todays hyper speed of intelligence work, do we ever get off of the clock? Is it possible to be off the clock, if one had some way to measure?
Or rather, is the clock not binary, but again an ebb and flow of time throughout ones life? In modern American society, most people work 40-60 hour work weeks. With life being half of your life, it aligns with one’s own self interest to focus on the balance as best as possible.
As I move forward in my working career, I aim to see it as my mission, my purpose, for what else would I be doing? I’m fortunate to be able to work on challenging topics, evolving problems, and being surrounded by others on their own same like-missions. I aim to take the mindset of being fortuate to do these things and experiencing them.
Embrace the clock. Find the flow.