In daily life, we seldom give much thought to the value of one hour. We can easily fritter an hour away checking text messages, posting on Facebook, or playing video games. On the other hand, we can multi-task and fill an hour with frenetic activity such as running on a treadmill while listening to a web cast.
What about the value of an hour at work? Those 35-40 hours each week are, theoretically, to be set aside for specific work-related activity. Yet, research tells us few people actually work the number of hours for which they are paid.
To check this finding for yourself, choose one week and keep track of the work time that you don’t spend on work. Include activities such as chatting with co-workers, shopping online, reading text messages from friends, and arriving late or leaving early, or taking a long lunch.
If these hours add up, it may be an indication that you are in the wrong job. Perhaps you don’t have enough work to do, or your work isn’t challenging and you are bored, or you hate what you are doing. If any of these are true, it’s time to find a new opportunity.
On the other hand, if you simply do as little work as possible, cut corners, and take advantage of your employer and colleagues every chance you get, you might want to ask yourself some serious questions: “Is mine a work ethic I respect?” Or, “Can I really get ahead with the effort I’m expending?” Or, “Am I proud of my work behavior?” Or, “Do I simply stay in this job because it’s so easy?”
Take a hard look at your answers. Then decide if you are content with a job (the job you are in?), or do you want to build a career? If a successful career is your goal, you may have to change how you use your time. The first step is to make certain you spend work hours doing work.
A work hour is a valuable commodity, not only for your employer, but as a building block for your own achievement and advancement. One hour of your best effort may be worth a lot more than you think.