Don’t let the 9-to-6 routine bog you down. Find ways to make these hours happy and productive, says Anshul Chaturvedi.
There is this massive hoarding that I see every day when I drive home from work. It sells a pension plan: “When the nine-to-six routine ends, that’s when life begins.” Really?
Ergo, what we do nine to six is drudgery, and when we are “free of it” is when ‘life’ will begin? To have a full day ahead and not know what to do with it is not a happy situation. It would be no more profound a life than working on what you do reasonably well for a large part of your life.
I have no issue with a happy retired life, but I do not accept the view that the nine-to-six routine is the bane of one’s existence. I would like to make of that time, and that effort, something that helps me understand what my existence is all about, and not wait to be “free from work”. Why should we wait for after-office hours or the post super-annuation stage to find time to reflect on work and its fundamentals?
However, it can well be asked, what is there to reflect on? Does one need to have a philosophy at work or, indeed, a philosophy of work? Isn’t it all just a rat race, where nice guys finish last?
Doesn’t the talk of ethics and spirituality belong to an esoteric, otherworldly plane, while the workplace and our careers are all about the here-and-now? It’s so easy, isn’t it, for people to give gyaan and not realise the disconnect existing between it and the daily grind at office?
The answer is yes and no, depending on what we work for. If we work primarily to eke out a living, or because being idle is not a practical option, or because we want to get married, buy that car, get the EMI under control, or to live out an ego trip via our visiting cards, then there is really no connect. We may as well stick to ‘managing’ our careers, gloat at high points, tremble at setbacks. Be ‘practical’, as they say. If we think that what we are as a person—our emotions, reflexes, strengths and weaknesses — is divorced from what we are as ‘workers’, then it doesn’t matter how we live out the ‘work’ part of life.
However, since we do not acquire a new personality when we clock in on entering office or clock out, the basics and traits that define us are not likely to be different. The things that make for an individual of some credibility, and for a colleague of some standing, are not likely to be very different — and vice versa. Ergo, saying: “I am honest ‘as a person’ but ‘work compulsions’ make me behave differently where office issues are concerned,” isn’t really an easy-to-sell proposition—even to oneself.
Ultimately, our honesty, courage, clarity of conviction or their lack define us as workers just as they describe us as individuals. Since the artificial divorce of personal fundamentals doesn’t last, it is sensible to accept that we are not split personalities, and we are what we fundamentally are — in office or outside — and use the workplace and the whole exercise of “doing our job” as a tool to develop ourselves to be more evolved, refined and stronger individuals.
Using office for personal growth need not be limited to using the office PC to check our friends’ status message updates.
Coming back to the initial question, one can conclude that perspectives vary, depending on what we finally work for. The spiritual and ethical flavour in your workplace conduct and life becomes a given when you choose to follow a basic approach to your work, perhaps as summed up succinctly by Helice Bridges: “I am not here just to make a living; I am here to make a life.”
I cannot but take questions about work fundamentals very seriously; they are, after all, the fundamentals of my life.