Work while you work; play while you play

StressedUniversityStudentAn analogy can be drawn between the challenges people face when completing their post-secondary education and what they will experience once they start working.

The typical post-secondary student carries anywhere from four to six courses per term over the first few years of their degree or diploma.  A typical employee who works on both projects and operations is likely to be responsible for performing at least the same number of concurrent activities.

College courses are loosely related to one another and are taken in support of the student’s strategic objectives – establishing a solid foundation of knowledge to start a career and receiving one’s degree or diploma.  Activities performed by staff (hopefully!) all align with a broader strategy for the organization.

So far, so good.

Where issues arise is the lack of coordination between professors with regards to the scheduling of work for their individual courses.  Students regularly find themselves with multiple papers or exams all due at the same time.  This, combined with the typical student’s extracurricular activities translates into unmanageable levels of multitasking.  The common complaint that professors behave as if their courses are the only priority for their students sounds eerily familiar to anyone that speaks with staff in organizations which encourage high levels of multitasking.

When we look at the sad statistics regarding post-secondary student suicide rates we should recognize that things have got worse over the past three decades.  While such extreme reactions may not occur after students have entered the workplace, employee health issues, low employee engagement scores, and chronic complaints about poor work-life balance are all symptoms of the same disease.

When years of graduating students have been brainwashed into coping with unhealthy multitasking and believing that this is normal, is it any wonder that the same practices are flourishing in the workplace?  And if so, shouldn’t we introduce change that nips the myth of “productive” multitasking in the bud in post-secondary education while we are trying to do the same in the workplace?

Work while you work; play while you play.

That is the way to be cheerful all day.

All that you do, do with your might.

Things done by halves are never done right.

One thing each time and that done well, is a very good rule as many can tell.

Moments are useless trifled away; so work while you work and play while you play.

~M.A. Stodart

Categories: Facilitating Organization Change, Process Peeves | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Work while you work; play while you play

  1. Richard E. Tolle

    I first heard this poem in 1948 recited by our old Irish parish priest, Fr. Lawrence Gallagher. He would repeat the poem several times during the school year. Simple as it may be, it became the basis of my life’s philosophy.


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