It’s not the hours you put in your work that counts, it’s the work you put in the hours. – Sam Ewing
What does that mean?
How many of you have seen people who were present at their jobs (they were putting in the hours), but who weren’t really getting all that much done (but were not doing the work)? From the teenager ‘working’ at the cash register to the boss you loved to hate, there are people in all jobs and in every walk of live who put in the hours, but don’t get much work done.
The flip side are the people who are busy as bees, going a hundred miles an hour, doing the worked of two or three of the people mentioned in the prior paragraph. They are the people you know will be hard to replace, because it would take several people to accomplish what they did each and every day.
The quote implies that we should try to be the latter person, and not the former person. Some one I once heart called it “leaving a big hole.” By working so hard and getting so much done, no one person could possibly replace you. The company would be in trouble if you ever decided to retire, transfer, or move on to another position or company. I like the thought of that, what about you?
Why is hard work important?
Having grown up in the American Midwest, I was exposed to the Midwestern Work Ethic. From mowing lawns to clearing tables or washing dishes, I knew what was expected and I did it. It was just that simple. Everybody knew what the rules were, and what the consequences were if you didn’t put in the effort.
While nearly everyone worked their fair share, there were some who regularly went the extra mile, picked up the extra shift, and could be counted on if things got rough. Those were the hard workers, and they were very valuable, both to the company, and to the other workers.
By working hard, they were the obvious pick when it came time for a promotion. They hustled, they made things happen, they got it taken care of when others were busy watching the clock. That is the reputation of a hard worker. For some, it’s a badge of honor, to be the best at their job.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Where are you slacking off in your life? While the quote is specifically about how much work you put into your hours at work, what about the other hours in your life? While some time for recreation is absolutely essential, there is such a thing as wasting time as well.
Somewhere there is a balance, as there is with nearly everything. But when you are slacking off, you are actually wasting time. At work, you may have a fixed number of hours you need to put in, but in nearly every other area of your life, you are in a race to get as much done before you have to move on to the next task.
If you can stay focused, and keep working, you can get a tremendous amount of work done in quite a short amount of time. That leaves more time to either get other things done, or to extend your next designated recreation time by a little bit, right? After all, you worked hard, you earned it!
That’s another Midwestern term, “work hard, play hard!” While sometimes it has as much to do with the rough energy that goes into pickup games of basketball (no blood, no foul rules are common), it also has to do with an attitude towards fun.
Yes, reading a book is a great way to relax. So is drowning worms, I mean fishing. But so is bicycling, hiking, football, rugby, basketball, and any number of other physically active recreational pursuits. Note that almost all the active pursuits that I listed are actual physical work. It’s a great way to stay warm when it’s cold out, and a great way to stay in shape.
We all get the same number of hours every day. What we do with them is largely up to us. How efficiently we use them is completely up to us. I don’t believe in any excuses for not being as busy as you want to be. Keep something with you to occupy time you spend waiting at a doctor’s office.
Some of my best blogs have been written in “waiting time” between fixed events, or where I otherwise wouldn’t be able to get much done. Have laptop, will travel. Sometimes, it’s written on some paper I got from someone else.
It’s up to you to determine what effort you’re going to put into each hour of your day. Personally, I try not to waste too much time. But it is your life, your hours. Live them, or leave them, they will pass either way.