Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger by Daft Punk
This week I had the opportunity to go to London to attend a funeral to say farewell to a cousin who passed away. I decided to travel down by train and stay overnight. To make it a bit more poignant and luxurious rather than a rushed experience.
Usually when I travel from Liverpool to London on the train, the carriages are quite full and bustling with life, but this time, with the current travel restrictions in place, there were only three people in my standard class carriage. It felt almost like travelling on a private train. (I can only guess at this. I’ve never actually travelled on a private train!)
I was able to use the time to just sit and do nothing in particular. I occupied myself doing a bit of staring out the window, a bit of reading, listening to some music, and a bit of resting my eyes. It reminded me of something the Madness frontman Suggs once said; that people wasted their time working on trains when instead they could just be present and getting some head space.
Work it. Make it. Do it. Makes us. … Work is never over!
Many of us will recognise the strong cultural pull of this work ethic, but I often wonder how useful it is, and whether it might be useful every now and again to promote an ethic of ‘just enough will do’. Certainly, the temptation for me whilst on the train was to use the time to get on with work on my laptop. It took discipline, and strangely enough, planning, not to fall into the grip of this temptation. I say planning as firstly it took me making the decision before hand not to take my computer, and then secondly, it took me making a determined decision before hand to view this as downtime and that this would be of true value.
So, the time actually became more valuable to me by me not trying to cram extra work into the time I had, but instead to simply invest it in me. Similarly, making the decision to stay at a hotel (at the cost of just £18!) meant I didn’t have to rush at all and could reflect and be prepared for the funeral rather than just turning up as part of a crammed day and not really being present.
Now I’m back home, and in front of the computer again, it’s been a great reminder that planning to create space and time to just ‘be’ should always be one of my priorities. There will always be more work to do, and the social pressure is to work:
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.
But what is more valuable is learning to decide when enough has been done and to simply stop and embrace the opportunities to find downtime, even when it comes in the form of the most unusual of circumstances.
Need to re-design your work-life balance? Why not consider booking an appointment with the author, Dr Dave Wood?