These days it is extremely dangerous to quote Morrissey. The former frontman of The Smiths has a Farage-like tendency to emit some comments that flirt with xenophobia. I hope this is to wind people up rather than because he actually believes the guff he speaks. That said, it’s hard not to identify with the sentiments of his recent single Spent The Day in Bed, which promotes the benefits of loafing at home while “Workers stay enslaved”.
As a recent convert to the world of the self-employed, it is easier for me to follow the Mozza’s advice. I don’t have to call in ‘sick’, don’t have make a pretence to have a duvet day. Yet I don’t spend the day in bed. Why? Partially because the only person I’d be conning is myself. Partially because I’ve begun to appreciate the benefits of the work/loaf balance.
You’ve no doubt read a slew of reports and surveys about how many hours a month are “wasted” by workers because of office distractions – from Facebook and Instagram, to office gossip or merely bemoaning the Crystal Palace defence. This is as opposed to time really wasted – in pointless meetings, “strategy” discussions or merely getting to and from the designated workplace. And then there is the grey area of looking at supposedly work-related sites, such as LinkedIn, where you can pretend you are making contacts for work rather than checking out potential alternative employment.
However, are the “distractions” really wasting time? Not being in an office I can go onto any social media I want at any time. I can take a few minutes off to focus on the “Teatime Theme Time” on BBC 6 Music (which I spotted the other day – posting my success on social media, so combining two distractions in one). I can engage in an email or text conversation with friends (or even phone them). I see it as a brain refresh. Trying to work out a concept for a client the other day, I decided to make a cup of tea and check out a friend’s postings from a recent foreign trip. Quickly I started coming up with new ideas and went straight back to the grindstone.
The nature of work has changed massively since I left university. Roles that never existed are now prominent. You never are uncontactable. Communication is instant and often superficial. Yet we still consider that a work day starts at around 8-9am and finishes at about 5-6pm. During that time we probably do no more than three or four hours “work”. Offices, though, are filled with people trying to look busy, keen to show how “swamped” they are.
Going freelance I’ve been able to restructure my work day yet achieve more. It’s not merely because I have – as Morrissey says – “No bus, no boss, no rain, no train” but also because I’ve learned to enjoy the guilty pleasures if in work loafing. Time wasted isn’t wasted!