- This Entrepreneur Thinks You Should Stop Clock Watching And Start Obsessing Over Results
- If you only do one thing this week … stop clock-watching
- Clock-Watching Takes On A Different Meaning In Global Teams
- Stop clock watching. Measure effectiveness, not hours
- Not all working hours are equal
- Putting in the hours
- The toxic culture of martyrdom
- Nurturing your flow state
- Self-management unlocks intrinsic motivation
- Seven ways to move towards Free-range working
- Stop logging time
- Set your goals at the beginning of the day, stop when they’re done
- Set a good example
- Reward people for looking after themselves
- Don’t reward bad behaviour
- Don’t limit holiday or time off
- Support people working from home
- To watch or not watch the clock?
- Clock watching
- Is clock watching harmful to your career?
- 6 ways clock watching can harm your career
- When is clock watching OK?
- A final thought
This Entrepreneur Thinks You Should Stop Clock Watching And Start Obsessing Over Results
Ajit Nawalkha is author of Live Big: A Guide to Passion, Practicality, and Purpose
New thinkers in the modern workplace are questioning the need to work nine to five, five days a week, and looking at whether this could be hurting our productivity.
You can split today’s business leaders into three camps. There are those still clinging to the traditional 5:2 model that has served us since The Great Depression when two-day weekends were a solution to underemployment.
At the other end of the spectrum are the bosses looking at results rather than hours worked, meaning their teams could technically work just two days a week if they met their production quota or hit their targets.
And somewhere in the middle are those mixing things up, experimenting with new models four-day workweeks, offering every tenth day off, or testing the popularity of unlimited annual leave.
One convert to the results-based concept is entrepreneur Ajit Nawalkha, coach, speaker, and cofounder of education technology company Mindvalley, who believes the nine to five approach has no place in knowledge-based businesses.
In his new book Live Big: A Guide to Passion, Practicality, and Purpose, Nawalkha writes about how he did a complete U-turn on his approach to the relationship between time and productivity.
I absolutely had to see every one of my team members at their desk at 9 am sharp each morning, typing the wind at their computers or at least looking they were doing something useful. And I expected them to stay there until 5 pm — preferably longer. If I didn’t see someone at the office during those hours, it was a problem for me.”
All that changed when he started to notice the work his team produced did not match the number of hours they spent doing things. After scrutinizing his own output, it dawned on him that much of his time in the office was spent doing nothing, or being distracted.
Nawalkha cites a book by Gary Keller called The One Thing that explained to him the difference between 'clock time' and 'event-based time'.
Clock time works very well in an effort-based environment where you’re expected to do simple, monotonous tasks, on a factory line. But, for most entrepreneurs and their teams, work is event-based: they must keep going with a task until they’ve reached the expected outcome. For most of us, clock time is all we’ve ever known.
For most of us, clock time is all we’ve ever known
Freestocks.org on Unsplash
This makes perfect sense when you consider just how many people work overtime for no extra money; the job doesn’t end when the clock strikes 5pm, and tasks cannot always be carried over into the next day.
Nawalkha has since transformed the way his company functions, these realizations. Shunning the clock, he turned his attention to results instead. Now, his employees no longer keep time logs–they are only measured on what they produce–and he no longer feels guilty about taking breaks in the middle of the working day.
Curious to know how this works in practice, and how his team coped with the change, I spoke to him to find out more.
Nawalkha told me that step one was convincing his employees of the merits of a culture of results. “We started with defining a vision for the company: where were we going and how we would get there,” he said.
“The next step was to define immediate business goals and then get an understanding of each person's role in it.
With that clarity, it was easy to assign each person goals and metrics to know if we were making progress or not.”
Goal setting can help make expectations really clear, he explained: “One of the suggested ways is to have team goals, and then break them into individual goals and KPIs. With individual goals tying back into team goals an agreement is made where everyone understands why it’s vital for the team to achieve, and not just the individual.”
In short, if one person doesn’t pull their weight, the team suffers. But how does he make sure everyone is focused on the team’s results, and not how quickly they can get their work finished?
Nawalkha told me that what makes teams work well is attitude and connection. He said: “If your team aligns with your purpose, and if you align with their goals, your team will be excited to work toward the outcome they want to achieve with you and not how long or how little they have to do to get there.”
I asked if results-based work could be open to abuse by lazier members of a team – a reason commonly cited by business leaders who don’t want to offer staff more flexibility because they don’t trust them.
He told me: “There will always be someone who doesn't fully buy into the idea, or who takes advantage. But clocking in and the office doesn't guarantee results either. One could spend all their time standing by the coffee machine, chatting up other colleagues.”
Results-based working means distractions are on employee time
Crew on Unsplash
When you think about it, the results-based approach is even better for stopping the slackers and shirkers from getting away with it: those who don’t produce get found out pretty quick.
But there is still room for people to be really inefficient. In any given team some will be good at hitting their targets quickly so they can enjoy some downtime while others will be idle and inefficient right up to the last minute, even though they spend a long time willing themselves to work.
I asked Nawalkha how he deals with this and he said: “That does happen. Personalities are different and understanding them is important. We do MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Tests) with our teams to understand their personalities so I know as a leader who am I dealing with and what's the best way to communicate with them.
“The reason why a results-driven environment still works is because of cross responsibilities. Tasks are in often tangled with one other, and slow delivery or a failure to deliver by one team member can affect another team member’s performance. This forces the team to have a holistic view and usually setup timelines which support different working styles.
“To expect someone to go against their nature in getting tasks done is often is counterproductive and builds frustration. Working on a task last minute is not a bad thing if you do it well. Often procrastinators could be so because they to think about their tasks until the last minute instead of getting to them right away.”
What can a leader who moves her or his team to the results-based method expect to see, I asked him? “If the way we approach work changes, the company culture will automatically start to shift,” he said. “You ideally should see more collaboration, faster execution and better communication between team members.”
Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation. By Alan Burdick. Simon & Schuster; 320 pages; $28.
TIME is such a slippery thing. It ticks away, neutrally, yet it also flies and collapses, and is more often lost than found. Days can feel eternal but a month can gallop past.
So, is time ever perceived objectively? Is this experience innate or is it learned? And how long is “now”, anyway? Such questions have puzzled philosophers and scientists for over 2,000 years. They also began to haunt Alan Burdick of the New Yorker.
Keen for answers, he set out “on a journey through the world of time”, a lengthy trip that spans everything from Zeno’s paradoxes to the latest neuroscience. Alas, he arrives at a somewhat dispiriting conclusion: “If scientists agree on anything, it’s that nobody knows enough about time.”
Humans are apparently poor judges of the duration of time. Minutes seem to drag when one is bored, tired or sad, yet they flit by for those who are busy, happy or socialising (particularly if alcohol or cocaine is involved).
Eventful periods seem, in retrospect, to have passed slowly, whereas humdrum stretches will have sped by. Although humans (and many animals) have an internal mechanism to keep time, this turns out to be as reliable as a vintage cuckoo clock.
“It’s a mystery to me that we function as well as we do,” observes Dan Lloyd, a philosopher and time scholar at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
St Augustine, a fourth-century philosopher and theologian, was the first to recognise time as a property of the mind, an experience of perception and far from absolute. His insight turned what had been a subject of physics into one of psychology, and it informs much of the work of later scientists.
In the mid-1800s William James, a philosopher and psychologist, noted that the brain does not perceive time itself but its passage, and only because it is filled in some way.
He grew baffled by efforts to quantify the present, observing that any instant melts in one’s grasp, “gone in the instant of becoming”.
Of all interior clocks, the circadian is perhaps best understood. Nearly every organism has a molecular rhythm cycle that roughly tracks a 24-hour period. In humans all bodily functions oscillate depending on the time of day.
Blood pressure peaks around noon; physical co-ordination crests in midafternoon; and muscles are strongest at around 5pm. Night-shift workers are not as productive as they think they are.
Cataclysms of human error, including accidents at Chernobyl and aboard the Exxon Valdez, all took place in the small hours, when workers are measurably slowest to respond to warning signals.
Long-distance travel often makes a hash of the body’s “synchronised confederacy of clocks”, disrupting not only sleep but metabolism. The jet-lagged body recovers at a rate of about one time zone per day.
Mr Burdick spent quite a lot of time on this book, beginning it just before his twin sons were born and finishing it when they were old enough to suggest titles.
It reads a discursive journey through a vague and slippery subject, a thoughtful ramble across decades and disciplines.
Although the study of time has yielded few firm conclusions, one lesson is poignantly certain: most people complain that time seems to speed up as they get older, in part because they feel more pressed for it. “Time”, writes Mr Burdick, “matters precisely because it ends.”
This article appeared in the Books and arts section of the print edition under the headline “Clock-watching”
Reuse this contentThe Trust Project
If you only do one thing this week … stop clock-watching
It's 3.15 in the afternoon. The clock ticks, the fan whirs. You yawn and stretch, stare at the pile of paperwork that needs to be done. Tick-tock goes the clock. You sigh deeply, stare at your telephone.
Try your very hardest not to look at the time – at least for another hour, well, make that half-hour, make that …
God, is it still only 16 minutes past three? Has some office wag poured treacle into the clock to slow down the mechanism?
Can time actually stand still? Does it ever go backwards? Maybe if I had ever made it past page 13 of A Brief History of Time I could enlighten you, dear reader. But in any case, it's unly that either of us needs a brain Stephen Hawking's to realise what's wrong: you are guilty of that widespread office crime, clock-watching.
The minute hand flies round when you're having fun and crawls round a dozy tortoise when you're not.
And while work does not have to be an endless carnival of enjoyment to be worthwhile, you have the right to expect it to be a little more exciting than watching moss grow on a paving stone.
So if the period between lunch and your mid-afternoon tea break seems to last longer than the Cold War, how can you bring down the Berlin Wall of office ennui? How can you drag your eyes away from the slowly turning hands of the clock for more than two minutes at a time?
The most obvious way to revitalise things is to take a break from the drudgery and do something enjoyable. You could organise an office quiz, for example, or find an equally bored workmate and challenge them to a game of battleships.
Ten minutes' fun-time should enliven and refresh you, but don't overdo it. It's amazing how a harmless game of screwed-up-invoice volleyball or inter-desk tiddlywinks can take on a life of its own, especially when the alternative is a pile of soul-destroying filing.
And while you might pine an ardent lover for 5 o'clock to come round, not everyone around you will share your view that the final hours of a working day are purely time to kill. You know the ones – those eager beavers who don't so much as glance at the time, then suddenly chirp up: “Ooh, quarter past three already – doesn't the time just whiz by!”
Well, watch out, because each time they dash busily past your desk they'll have the chance to note just how little work you're actually doing.
And while career highlights can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, being called into the boss's office to explain why the closest you got to strategic business planning this morning was surmising that E4 must be the tip of Simon's battle cruiser will never be one of them.
So instead, why not take a leaf the eager beavers' book, and make a conscious effort to take an interest in your work, however dull it might seem? In extreme cases, you might think this can only be done under the influence of some powerful psychotropic drug. But fear not, finding work interesting need not necessarily involve becoming convinced that the head of purchasing control has transmogrified into the Lizard King of the Universe and his office is the magic garden at the centre of the sun.
It's more a question of changing your attitude. Smile and the world will smile with you, they say. Pretend to what you're doing, and with luck, you might begin to quite enjoy it.
There are snags to thinking positive, of course. Do you really want to join the ranks of people who find deeply dull things interesting, for example? Think of trainspotters, accountants and anyone who was still watching Big Brother last week, and you might be forced to conclude that the best way to make the day fly by couldn't be simpler: go out and get a job you actually enjoy.
“,”author”:”Giles Morris”,”date_published”:”2008-09-07T23:01:00.000Z”,”lead_image_url”:”https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Money/Pix/pictures/2008/09/05/TimewatchingStoneAdriBerger460.jpg?width=1200&height=630&quality=85&auto=format&fit=crop&overlay-align=bottom%2Cleft&overlay-width=100p&overlay-base64=L2ltZy9zdGF0aWMvb3ZlcmxheXMvdGctZGVmYXVsdC5wbmc&enable=upscale&s=8735ead4c2658afe557a6ecadcbb8061″,”dek”:null,”next_page_url”:null,”url”:”https://www.theguardian.com/money/2008/sep/08/workandcareers”,”domain”:”www.theguardian.com”,”excerpt”:”Peel your eyes away from the minute-hand, says Giles Morris, or the working day will seem to crawl along”,”word_count”:672,”direction”:”ltr”,”total_pages”:1,”rendered_pages”:1}
Clock-Watching Takes On A Different Meaning In Global Teams
Consider these facts:
- 66% of multinational companies make extensive use of virtual teams
- 79% of employees responding to a recent survey said they “always or frequently” worked in dispersed teams
Clearly Virtual, or Geographically dispersed, teams are now an undeniable fact of life in knowledge organizations everywhere.
There are various ways of defining a Virtual or a Global team – what is common to most of those definitions is that the team members are geographically dispersed while still working on the same task or within the same function towards shared goals.
A key role is played by the processes, platforms and technologies that are used in managing and aligning the efforts of the teams across geographies and even time zones. There has been a lot said about the benefits and challenges of the model – let us focus on one specific aspect, that of time.
Time was a major driver of the whole “Virtual Team” phenomenon – you would have heard of the “Follow the sun model”. This has been a way for organizations to extend the work day to near 24 hours.
Consider the example of a software product being developed by a team in California over the US West Coast work day and then being passed on to a team in India for testing and QA at the start of their work day.
If everything flows smoothly the California team could expect to get back tested code when they check in the next day. Sounds great doesn’t it?
everything in life, nothing is quite that straight forward – time management has a very different connotation in such situations. Surveys among employees working in such virtual teams have shown that approximately half of them felt that the time zone differences actually adversely affected team success.
Today’s Agile development environment calls for daily Scrums and regular communication between team members – the accepted option seems to be for people at either end of the globe to stretch their work day well into the wee hours to be able to get together. This is a sub-optimal solution in more ways than one.
There is a certain “ sight, mind” element that could creep in too when team members are geographically dispersed.
A recent survey revealed that 15%-28% of team members believed that not knowing enough about the workloads of other members was a frequent issue.
Perhaps more damagingly as many as 71% of the employees surveyed complained of team members not participating actively – essentially coasting on the efforts of others.
It seems apparent that better approaches are needed to time management and transparently tracking and reporting on the efforts being put in by team members. Some methods that have worked well are:
- Transparently tracking both effort being expended as well as results being achieved by individual team members as well as teams and mapping these against clearly established and communicated standards
- Having clear and consistent policies across teams regarding attendance, time sheets, check-in & check-out times and other output characteristics
- Setting clear expectations across teams about the “limits” to the flexibility in work timings and in turn respecting the trade-offs the employees have to make by working in their “off work” hours for calls with remote teams
Technology based solutions can be the friend of the manager leading the Virtual team – providing a depth of visibility into what is going on across the team and allowing a high degree of project and yes, even time management, across locations. These can also play a role in helping the employee tasked with communicating with teams in other time zones manage his time and schedule better.
There are some clear “time” benefits to be had from the Virtual team model – what is clear is that to be able to get the most the model and have a smoothly running machine special emphasis will have to paid to how the most precious resource of all, time, is utilized!
Stop clock watching. Measure effectiveness, not hours
When Convivio launched one year ago, we wanted to create a workplace that supports a good lifestyle. It’s part of our collective ambition that we all have a happy, fulfilling life — and do high quality work.
One cornerstone of that is distributed working. We don’t rent permanent office space, everyone is free to live where is best for them. We also take that a step further, that we call free-range working which allows freedom of location and time.
Not all working hours are equal
The idea that every working hour of the day is equal value is an idea left over from the industrial age. Let’s pretend you work in a hat factory, where your job is to repeat the same menial tasks over and over to construct hats. Every day. The more hours you work directly correlates to the number of hats you can produce, which correlates directly to profit.
Contrast this to the roles and responsibilities we have now, consulting, strategy, design, and development. You’re not paid to repeat the same tasks over and over. You’re paid because you’re an expert, you have experience, and you’re able to apply proven tools and processes to new situations and problems. Every day.
So much value depends on making the right decisions and doing good work. This rarely achieved by putting in more hours.
Putting in the hours
If you look in your contract you’re ly to find a required number of hours in a working day. It’s ly that you have the start and end times dictated as well. Company culture can reinforce this, discouraging people from starting late or leaving early.
As long as you’re at your desk for eight hours a day, you won’t get in trouble. No wonder people waste time on social media or watching at work.
The toxic culture of martyrdom
The classic sign of a company culture that promotes quantity of hours over quality of hours are where employees use overworking as a badge of honour.
People who are workaholics are ly to attempt to fix problems by throwing sheer hours at the problem. If you’re dealing with people working with anything creatively that’s a deadbeat way to get great work done.
People who always work late makes the people who don’t feel inadequate for merely working reasonable hours. That’ll lead to guilt, misery, and poor morale. Worse, it’ll lead to ass-in-seat mentality where people will “stay late” obligation, but not really be productive.
Fire the workaholics — Signal v. Noise
Nurturing your flow state
In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us Daniel H. Pink describes the flow state:
Creative people with a drive for perfection often work in a flow state, which means they pursue a task with the highest degree of concentration and passion, forget the world around them and lose themselves entirely in their work. Think of painters who happily work at their pictures for hours on end.
Do you remember a period of time of intense focus where you’ve managed to complete a task in half the time estimated? Your instinct might encourage you to reach for the next task on the pile, to try and keep this state of productivity rolling. That’s exactly how to kill this state.
Daniel H. Pink acknowledges that the flow state can not last for extended periods. It needs nurturing. That means good sleep, exercise, and supporting good mental health.
If you need a lie in to feel 100%, that benefits everyone. If you need a walk to clear your head and think over a problem, that benefits everyone.
If you want to take a longer lunch hour so you can exercise, that benefits everyone.
An unhealthy culture of workaholism prevents us from getting enough sleep. In fact, according to a 2010 US government report, 30 percent of all employees get less than six hours os sleep per night, while nearly 70 percent describe their sleep as “insufficient”.
The Sleep Revolution — Arianna Huffington
What’s better, eight hours where you’re chained to your desk waiting for the day to end, or four hours of focused time where you achieve the same output?
Self-management unlocks intrinsic motivation
At Convivio, we don’t log hours. We don’t use time as a measurement for success, instead we measure output. When you give people responsibility over their working day, you give them responsibility over their productivity, career progression, and lifestyle.
Instead of sitting at a desk putting in the hours over fear of some kind of punishment, people feel more in control, and more committed to the shared goals of the organisation.
Seven ways to move towards Free-range working
Here are changes you can make to change your company culture, away from one that values number of hours worked over work done.
Stop logging time
Don’t estimate or log time on project tickets. You might think that’s the only way of predicting how much you can get done before that deadline, but as we’ve discussed, not all hours are equal. How many hours have you logged just to fill up the eight hours of the day, instead of it being an accurate measurement of focus, productive time?
Set your goals at the beginning of the day, stop when they’re done
In the morning, try setting a finite number of tasks you’d be happy completing by the end of the day. Once you’ve finished those tasks, finish your day. It’s a great motivational tool to get things done, instead of wasting time.
Set a good example
If you’re in a leadership position, such as CEO, project managers, team leads, or a senior developer, you can’t encourage people to self-care and then work late yourself. It’s what you do that sets the tone, not what you say. Be honest if you’re feeling run down or not 100%, and demonstrate to your team what to do to fix it. Go for a walk, do some exercise, or sleep in.
Reward people for looking after themselves
Breaking the habits of years of employment is difficult. If someone is brave enough to take the initiative and look after themselves, praise them. This person is a hero. Make them feel they are doing the right thing. Kill any side eye from colleagues who might try to insinuate they are doing a bad job for not sitting at their desk all day.
Don’t reward bad behaviour
Don’t encourage people to work late by paying for overtime. Don’t praise someone who works late. Support them to learn a more effective process, instead of just throwing man hours at the problem.
Don’t limit holiday or time off
Let people take time off when they feel they need it, not to fill some quota. If someone hasn’t taken time off in a while, encourage them to do so.
Support people working from home
Change how you communicate so people aren’t required to be in the office all day every day. Commutes can be a terrible drain on focus and time which means you usually don’t get enough sleep.
“,”author”:”Lewis Nyman”,”date_published”:”2018-08-17T11:08:00.798Z”,”lead_image_url”:”https://miro.medium.com/max/1200/1*7iygMvdOTVFosoyiMarlgg.jpeg”,”dek”:null,”next_page_url”:null,”url”:”https://blog.weareconvivio.com/stop-clock-watching-measure-effectiveness-not-hours-5d7c28fd03a7″,”domain”:”blog.weareconvivio.com”,”excerpt”:”A productive day is still measured by how many hours you spend at your desk. We believe the best way to measure and reward productivity isâ¦”,”word_count”:1136,”direction”:”ltr”,”total_pages”:1,”rendered_pages”:1}
To watch or not watch the clock?
Many people have heard the suggestion that is is best not to ‘clock watch’ over night whilst trying to sleep. Today I’ll outline how clock watching can worsen sleep and how the simple suggestion to cover the clock at night can be powerful in improving your slumber.
When we treat Insomnia, we work to reduce barriers to sleep. One of the main barriers to sleep is increased arousal. Arousal can come from tension, stress, anxiety, frustration, anger, or even resignation.
Arousal can also come from being generally ‘wound-up’ (physically or mentally), or the mind being busy. This ‘hyperarousal’ may be quite obvious or it might be subtle, in either case it can interfere with sleep.
Increased arousal can increase how long it takes to fall asleep and how long we remain awake for when we wake up at night.
Mental arousal can be increased by clock watching. When people have been sleeping poorly for a long time, or when they are worried about their sleep, that there is a tendency to check the clock overnight.
On the one hand, monitoring the time makes sense; when humans are worried about something, we are hard-wired to be on the look-out for the cause of the worry. Imagine us living as cavemen 100’s of years ago. It was a helpful skill to monitor for signs of danger such as a storm, a fire, or a dangerous animal.
When we monitor the clock overnight we are checking to see if a poor night of sleep is threatening, and this prompts us to make plans for how we will cope with this.
So while we can understand where this clock watching behaviour comes from, we also need to be mindful of how it might adversely affect sleep.
When we check the time whilst in bed at night, we then make some mental calculations: how long have I been lying awake? How much sleep have I lost? How much time is there left to sleep? These thoughts all increase mental arousal.
Further thoughts may follow: Should I switch my alarm off so I can sleep in? … I won’t cope at work/school tomorrow! … I’ll be grouchy with the kids…. I’ll have to cancel my appointments…. There is now way I’m going to the gym tomorrow….I’ll get even further behind.
… I hate this! … What can’t I sleep a normal person? … My sleep is control. … I’ll be this forever! It is easy to see how this cascade of thoughts not only increases mental busyness but also leads to feelings of anxiety, worry, frustration, hopelessness, and resignation.
Sleeping with enemy
A clever study that examined the impact of clock monitoring revealed that people who watched the clock overnight experienced greater worry over night and took longer to fall asleep compared to those who did not watch the clock. Interestingly, when poor sleepers monitored the clock, they became LESS accurate in terms of estimating how much sleep they had. The clock monitoring made people think they they had slept less than they actually had.
I hope you might be convinced to experiment with covering the clock overnight. Throw a t-shirt over it, or put it under the bed. Try it for several nights and see if it makes a difference.
An important point is that if you are awake at night, your job is the same be it midnight, 2am or 4am: as best you can, wind-down and allow sleep to happen. If you are relaxed, your body will sleep if it needs it.
Hope this was helpful!?
Cheers, Dr Melissa Ree from Sleep Matters.
‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ Mary Oliver
A Memory from 1973
‘But do you love him?’ my friend asked, and something clicked in my brain.
Not anymore. The thought left me breathless.
I need not be my mother and stay forever in this relationship, which others had earmarked for marriage.
I could try elsewhere for love.
My friend and I sat in Coles Cafeteria where the rattle of plates and cutlery was the symphony orchestra you hear in movies when the hero reaches her epiphany and knows finally, she must act.
But did I dare?
I had one such moment several weeks ago when I dared to send an email to a well-known literary agent.
To it, I attached my synopsis, the first ten pages of my manuscript with a truncated list of publications and asked her to become my agent.
I heard nothing for weeks and decided I must dismiss this hope from my mind.
Either my email never reached the agent, hidden among the many emails on her desktop, or she did not bother to respond.
In time, she replied with apologies for her lateness.
‘I love your writing,’ she said, but I’m most ly too busy to take you on. Let me think about it.
Hope soaked back into my thirsty body, hope for someone who might back me and help me get my manuscript beyond its third draft stage into something closer to ready for the world.
I wanted to write then and there and tell her how chuffed I was that she might even consider me.
Was this too humble?
Should I sit on a reply? Leave it a while. Sound cool and nonchalant. Say ‘Thank you, I look forward to hearing back’. But I did not.
I wrote immediately and with gushing enthusiasm.
The agent wrote back again within the hour to say she could not take me on after all.
Once again, the sadness in my mouth.
Not for the first time.
What could I do with my devastation?
I could not write back to her and say, ‘Oh please change your mind. Please take me on.’
Instead, I wrote about my understanding of her situation, my thanks for her consideration and the pain of rejection we writers cop.
She wrote back to commiserate.
I can still feel the pain of coming so close to finding an agent.
a sponsor, someone who would back me, or such is my fantasy of agents.
They champion you. They say things about your writing, you cannot say yourself because that would be boasting.
Besides, you don’t even believe it yourself.
You need someone else to believe in you.
Otherwise, you stumble around trying to build confidence in your efforts while most of the time the bright lights of other people’s successes dazzle you while you keep on trying to be pleased for them and hope one day your turn will come.
Another memory, 1974.
The laundromat near the corner of Inkerman Street and Kooyong Road is still standing. I once loaded washing into its heavy-duty machines on a Saturday morning and flicked through magazines.
Between bursts of attention to the magazine, I watched the circle of glass on the machine and listened as the driers spun round and round.
Laundromats tend to look a, the same laminated table in the centre of the room, walled with white machines in rows, the washers on one side, the driers on the opposite. The same set of rules and instructions mapped out in bold print on a central wall below a large white clock, that invariably does not tell the exact time.
I sat opposite my spinning load, clock-watching in my boredom. The only other person in the laundromat, younger than me, a man with dark hair and black eyes cherries also stared into his magazine.
He was not my type, but still, he prickled my desire to meet someone new.
Somewhere out there in the wide world, there was someone, who thought me. Who shared my interest in exploring the inner workings of his mind, just as I d to explore mine.
A social worker perhaps, with a social conscience, an intelligent fellow who also knew his own mind, who could stand up for himself, and yet did not despise me for my foibles.
Such a man must have existed somewhere.
The writer before she wrote, circa 1973
I have written so much about my past it seems as if there is nothing left in it to explore. I know that this is not true. I know there are countless avenues to re-traverse, but they do not come back to me so readily these days, these memories of a past that seems constantly to slip from my grip.
My experience of the past has changed through writing about it. Mere thinking about it was never enough.
Thinking about events in the past merely served to keep them locked inside as if in a bubble of sense impressions but writing about these memories drags them out into the light and there they begin to change, not only to fade but to resemble something different from how I originally thought of them.
So, I shall keep on writing and hoping and trying for that agent.
Not much of a plan for what’s left of my ‘one wild and precious life’.
Is clock watching harmful to your career?
Do you constantly find yourself watching the clock, counting down the minutes until the end of the day?
Do you start winding down before home time, making sure your desk is cleared, your coat is on and your PC switched off, so you don’t go a minute over your allotted hours?
Perhaps you find yourself avoiding colleagues in case any last-minute tasks present themselves?
If this sounds you, then you may want to try and change your behaviours, as clock watching could be harming your career in the long-term.
6 ways clock watching can harm your career
Whether you must physically clock out to be paid hourly, or you’re a salaried worker, clock watching can be harmful to your long-term career. Although your official hours may be 9-5, here are six negative effects of being distracted by the clock.
1. You can become more stressed – Unsurprisingly, clock watching can increase your stress levels. Being so aware of time passing can add extra pressure on you. By wasting time staring at the clock, you also have less time to do your work. This will not only add further stress, but it can result in missed deadlines, as well as rushed and poor-quality output.
You’re wasting business time and money – When you’re constantly watching the clock, can you really reach your full potential? Your focus may also waver, along with the quality of your work.
To a business, time is money. Therefore, if you’re being less productive and are starting to get ready to leave before your work day is officially over, this may not impress your employer.
3. You look unhappy and demotivated – When you love the job you’re in, you can get so engrossed in tasks that you don’t realise the time.
However, if your manager sees you continuously staring at your clock and not at the project you’re supposed to be working on, this can imply that you don’t want to be in the office.
This will not play in your favour when job promotions, pay rises and other opportunities are up for review.
4. You look unambitious – Businesses appreciate enthusiastic employees who use their initiative and find new tasks to fill their time. If you’re clock watching, this could suggest that you have too much time on your hands and are not interested in taking on more responsibilities and progressing your career.
5. You may appear unreliable – Whilst you should never be forced to work overtime, your employer would want to know they can rely on you if needed. If there’s a busy period for example and you typically don’t work a minute over your official hours, a manager may assume you’re not dependable.
6. You may miss out on opportunities – Managers often arrive at the office early and leave late. By arriving and leaving on your official hours, you may miss valuable opportunities to connect and build relationships with them. Don’t forget that these are the people that will be making decisions that can help progress your career.
When is clock watching OK?
As you can see, clock watching can be bad for your career, but there’s another side you should consider too.
It could be argued that if you’re productive, hard-working and focused at work, and you get your projects delivered on schedule, why shouldn’t you start and leave at your contracted hours? After all, if an employee works far beyond their working hours, it could suggest that they’re not being productive enough.
If you’re hoping to progress your career path, being known as someone who meets every deadline, provides an excellent quality of work every time, has positive relationships with colleagues and shows they love their work, is better than being known as someone who puts in long hours but does average work.
A final thought
When you clock watch, time doesn’t move faster. In fact, clock watching makes time feel it’s going far slower. It even makes your job harder as you end up wasting time. You may think that you’re getting away with it, but it won’t go unnoticed by your colleagues and manager, which can have a long-term impact on your career.
It’s important to know though that to progress in your career, you don’t need to feel guilted into working every hour available. If you can show that you’re a hard worker, use your initiative and complete tasks by deadlines, you will still get noticed for the right reasons, even if you leave on time. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy or uncommitted.
In fact, making sure you leave on time can be good, as it’s important to have a healthy work-life balance. This not only means that you have an opportunity to relax, so you’re refreshed for the next day, but it can help to reduce stress and burnout.
Every business differs, so make sure you read the situation carefully and make your own mind up as to when is an appropriate time to start and leave. The good news is, with an increase in flexible working arrangements and working from home, businesses are focusing more on productivity and results, not how much overtime you did or didn’t do.