Posts Tagged boiler room
I often joke with my wife that I’m someday going to pack up, move to Montana and build a log cabin. Do you ever have the same feeling? A moment when you consider checking out, moving to Mexico and surfing for the rest of your life?
You are not alone.
As great as computers are, and they are great, humans were not meant to spend 8-10 hours a day in front of them.
In Part 1, I gave you a small insight into mill work. One of the things I loved about working there is every day you made tangible progress. Leather came in, leather went out. The pile of skins on one table decreased, while the skins on another increased. At the end of the day your legs and back hurt, but there is a sense of accomplishment because you see immediate results. I can now work on a project that may not yield results for months, possibly a year.
Nowadays, the only pain I feel after work is in my wrists due to a growing case of carpal tunnel from typing responses to hundreds of emails, most of them meaningless. Ever work 8 hours a day and feel like you accomplished nothing? Welcome to the 21st century, where assembly lines have been replaced with Microsoft Office. Instead of axles, metal and widgets, we have Excel, PowerPoint and Word.
The other thing I loved about the mill was the lack of stimulation. You were actually able to…think. Sure the act of putting skins on a table is pretty boring, but your brain was allowed to wander. There isn’t a lot of time to think and contemplate in corporate America. Not when you’re blasted with emails, instant messages, phone calls and social media updates. This is the great challenge of our generation. Those that can focus and avoid distractions will succeed.
Now I’m not naïve enough to think if I started working at the mill full-time again, I wouldn’t be daydreaming about my computer chair from Staples in six weeks. The grass isn’t always greener when it comes to blue-collar vs. white-collar. A mix of both would be ideal, but I haven’t figured out how to have the best of both yet.
You and I have a choice to make. We can stay a cog in the corporate America wheel for the next 20-30 years and be average, or we can make small tweaks to our daily life that could make us happier and more productive. And if you’re reading this site, you are probably interested in both.
Here are some of my suggestions I came up with, feel free to add more in the comments section.
1. Get off your Butt
You have to exercise, ideally 5-6 times a week. As I said earlier, even an hour a day isn’t enough, but something is better than nothing. I don’t care what it is, walking, running, biking, lifting weights, Wii Fit…just do something.
2. Motion Creates Emotion
Just like Ben Affleck said in Boiler Room (one of the best monologues of all time), “Get off your ass. Move around. Motion creates emotion.” Sure you can reply to that email in 30 seconds, or give someone a call about that TPS report, but why not take a walk across the office to speak with them in person? Be conscious of these opportunities. It’s a good way to keep the pulse of your team, stay engaged and build relationships. I try to work in 90 minute intervals, followed by a short walk to the water cooler. I talk about this in my 80/20 post.
3. Break the Email Cycle
Has a communication tool been more abused than Microsoft Outlook? The carbon copy feature has led to many nervous breakdowns and padded rooms. I’m willing to bet 60% of your email is crap and doesn’t warrant a response. I dare you to prove me wrong. If it’s important the person will call, I promise.
4. Technology Break
Take a day off from your computer, smart phone, cell phone, television, dvd player, ipod, ipad, iphone and anything else Steve Jobs has created once a week. You might have the shakes at first, but the results are pretty powerful. My track record is abysmal, but I never regret it when I succeed.
5. Get an Outdoor Hobby
My company offers an amazingly ridiculous perk in that we have a full gym in our office. It’s awesome that I can work out on my lunch. The problem is I don’t go outside for 8-10 hours a day. Not cool. Besides if you’re going electronics free you may as well spend it outdoors. Even urban dwellers don’t have an excuse. One of my favorite activities in NYC is walking around at night. NYC resident are also a quick train or car ride from decent hiking and beach opportunities.
6. Career Fulfillment
I hesitate to add this because we live in such a feel good society where so many talk about finding their passion. Especially considering our grandparents did whatever they had to do to provide for their families, even if it meant doing a job they hated. I know guys who used to work at one mill during the day, and work at a second that night.
However if you’re going to sit at a desk for extended periods of time, you may as well do something you like. The time will go faster and make sitting for long periods more tolerable. I am personally interested in more of a sales role where I can interact with clients much more than I do today.
7. Elevate Your Desk so you can Stand
Do not do this, weirdo.
Most of us are in the early stages of our careers, or have at least another decade ahead of us. If we are not happy with our situations, then it’s up to us to fix it. Hopefully these two posts offer an incentive to do so. The grass might just be greener after all.
Thanks for reading.