Every now and then…
A decision needs to be made, do you value your time or your effort? I know when I first started out in work I had little choice but to put in the hours. At some point we all have to just put in the hours for one reason or another. For me putting in the hours was about working 30 hours a week and doing a full time college / university course and still finding time to educate myself out side of college or university. During those days I had time on my hands I didn’t have a CV full of skills or jobs that made me look attractive to employers so I had to put in hours to make myself achieve what I wanted to and to ensure I could continue achieving more.
Occasionally there will be those moments, rare moments where you look at something that is working, no real issues with it and you realise it’s not “right”; you identify some issue or room for improvement and you give it some thought come up with a few ideas and then just implement the best one. This is putting in some effort, there was nothing really wrong but you decided it needed to be better, it needed to be improved some how and then it was done.
When I talk about effort I am not talking about slogging away for hours at a time I’m talking about people thinking about improving a situation on their own. It is incredibly easy to just sit there and solve problems that are presented, it’s something different to try to solve problems that no one is screaming about or worrying about but provide huge benefits to your daily work.
When to use each
Let’s start by clearing up something, you as an individual work for a company to earn money, the company works for the share holders to get them money. At no point is the company working for you, sure companies will pay you a salary and throw bonuses at you if you successfully navigate some hoops and give you a raft of benefits on the side. Now going back to earlier, at which point was any of this putting in extra time or effort to make you happy? give you better experiences or to increase your value.
Bear that in mind, I will probably contradict it in a moment.
In short, you care about you and you need to make a call whether investing the extra time into a work related task is worth while or that putting in some effort is worth while, no one else can do that, and anyone that tries should be shot down vigorously.
If you have some spare time where maybe your wife is out or you were just going to sit down and watch tv and you decide that on this day trading a couple of hours of home time to for work time would provide some benefit to you then you should do it. It’s not about putting in 12 hours days, it’s about using the time you have better, and when needs must and you want to, never feel pressured.
As for effort, you should be doing this all the time, yes you can have a easy time do the job and move on and scrape by doing the bear minimal, and sometimes this is a necessity due to time constraints, so don’t feel bad about it for starters. Normally to go that little bit further and add extra functionality to something is only a small amount of actual effort so it is worth identifying some “quick wins” in terms of effort, it may take away a bit of that extra time you put in but it is always valuable.
Now, what about if you work in an environment where they are rewarding you in ways that are “non-standard” ? Maybe after a hard month of effort they let you expense a meal for you and your wife (I’ve had this happen twice and it’s really nice mainly for my wife who is a work widow) or maybe they decide to fly you and everyone in the company to a Mediterranean island and let you do a treasure hunt across an island on a jeep (this has also happened). Well, I’d say firstly, if you’re being rewarded for the time and effort you put in then grab it and go with it, take what you can from the experience you never know where it will take you, but for sure, set targets for your self and only rarely re-address them and only if the company is working for you.
So if you are that lucky and even if you are not, choose to invest time and effort into the things you do if for no other reason than so you can say you did it.