Wednesday, 24 June 2009


“The true way to render ourselves happy is to love our work and find in it our pleasure.” – Françoise Bertaut de Motteville

Yesterday, I had a message from a far away friend, with whom I had not kept in contact for quite a long while. Our busy lives had kept us from seeing and talking to one another. The pleasure was firstly one of learning that she is well and still working away on her interesting projects, and secondly, that we have once again made contact and that we will no doubt spend many pleasant hours in the future exchanging news, thoughts and ideas.

A blessing associated with modern technology is the ease of communication. The internet has certainly made keeping in contact as simple as sending an email or tapping away a message on a messenger program. Skyping or video-Skyping is even more conducive to effective communication and a conversation can be carried out in more or less normal fashion, especially if you are able to see the smiling face of your interlocutor. Work-related communication has never been easier with the all of the modern means of keeping in touch.

Often, though, the problem with keeping in touch is not how easy or difficult it is, but rather the amount of finite time that we have at our disposal in order to carry out everything that we are compelled to do in a day. Work has increased its demands in the last few decades and many people now work extra long hours in order to keep up with the demands of their job. Unfortunately, this leads to our neglecting many of our other activities, not spending as much time as we would like with our families and friends. Needless to say that the less pressing tasks, as well as the activities that give us personal and selfish pleasure, our hobbies, are often the first to be sacrificed.

The workaholic is very much a product of our modern society and is nowadays in many cases the rule rather than the exception that we were familiar with in the past. Work makes enormous demands on our time, not only in the workplace, but it also invades our own space and private life. How easy it is nowadays to take work with us every night? Simply a matter of loading some files onto a USB flash drive and the computer at home takes over from where the computer at work left off. Or even more to the point, many people work on the same laptop both at work and at home (and also on the train, perhaps, on the way there and back)! Email access is universal and it is often expected to be able to send and receive work emails at any place and at any time. Mobile phones increase our accessibility and students expect to receive instant replies to their emails.

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is certainly something that applies to today’s world as much as it did, all those centuries ago when the folk sage came out with this saw. It is surprising that in this day and age of labour-saving devices, increasing leisure time, and strictly legislated work hours many of us still manage to run out of time in order to amuse ourselves and take pleasure in the company of our friends and dear ones.

This issue becomes all-important as the mid-year break approaches and a window of opportunity presents itself to many of us. A time to take a break and indulge in some annual leave. If you can afford to, consider taking some time off to have a break from work and relax as you catch up with family and friends, read a novel, fly a kite, go away somewhere, take a drive, bake a cake, put your feet up. “Taking time away from the stress of work can improve job performance, decrease stress-related illnesses and add years to our lives”, says Joe Robinson, author of “Work to Live: The Guide to Getting a Life”.

The seal in the illustration is one of Confucius’ wisdoms from his Analects: “Is it not a pleasure to have friends come from afar?”

workaholic |ˌwərkəˈhôlik| noun informal
A person who compulsively works hard and long hours.
workaholism |ˈwərkəˌhôlizəm; -ˌhäl-| |ˈwɔːkəhɒlɪz(ə)m| noun
Work + alcoholism

Jacqui BB hosts Word Thursday

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