The language I use when talking about work has been on my mind lately. A week ago a new friend asked me about my job. I told her I work for myself doing design and illustration. Then I quickly offered that it can be really hard, I work a lot and I have a lot to learn.
While that can be true, it is not necessary information upon first contact. I didn't say it because I wasn't confident; I said it because I was trying to fill in the gaps and not sound braggy.
I don't have kids, a spouse, an employee, a house or even a dog. But I am doing something I've never done before and it requires more energy and mental toughness than I've ever had to use. I don't feel bad about thinking it's hard, but I don't feel sorry for myself either. I'm chipping away at my dream. Why don't I just say that? That I'm exactly where I want to and need to be right now.
Paul Jarvis posted an article on the Harvard Business Review called, 'Please Stop Complaining About How Busy You Are', by Meredith Fineman. I thought it was fascinating. The premise is that as adults we are constantly one upping each other with how busy we are. In design school we bragged about how little sleep we got because it obviously meant we were dedicated and had the ability to function on little to no sleep. Never mind the fact that we had weeks to do the project and sometimes we'd work as a group over pancakes and mimosas. Clearly we used our time well. Of course in college, many of us hadn't even considered the concept of working smarter and not harder.
Fineman says, "For once, I’d like to hear someone brag about their excellent time management skills, rather than complain about how much they can’t get done. Maybe we could learn something from each other."
YES. I will be the first to admit I'm guilty of wearing my work hours on my sleeve.
Instead of humble brags, regular brags, sincere complaints or sincere updates, let's talk about how smart we work. Since reading that on Saturday, I've tried to regard myself as the smartest working person I know. How would that person plan their week? What would they work on first? What would they delegate? While it is admirable to strive to be the "hardest working person you know", the joke may be on you or me (or whoever the hardest worker is) at the end of the day.
Yesterday I read a great little blog post from Kathleen Shannon on the same topic and I will leave you with her words:
And when you ask me "how’s life?", instead of the “crazy busy” fall back, I’ll respond: Wildly productive and living the dream.
Insert fist pump.