Monday, June 1, 2009

Being Idle is not doing nothing

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in its Society at a Glance survey, reports ’the business of leisure is an art that the French seem to have perfected. They don't earmark time over the weekend and indulge in leisure with the religious zeal of, say, the Americans. Rather, they weave leisure into their everyday lives, enhancing its quality. Well, if they sleep a lot and take time off during the workday for long lunches, the French must have a poor work ethic. Right? Wrong. They are a hardworking bunch and a very productive one at that too. An International Labour Organisation (ILO) report puts them on par with Americans in terms of productivity’.
And further says, ‘It's a myth that people who devote more time to leisure than others are slackers. But reality is different. For instance, the OECD report reveals that Norwegians spend the maximum time on leisure. And guess what? The ILO report pegs them at the very top on the productivity chart. Clearly, there is truth in the wisdom that a healthy work-life balance boosts productivity and makes for better quality of life.’

It was R L Stevenson who wrote ‘an apology for idlers.’ He says ‘ idleness does not consist in doing nothing.’ For a civilization to advance idleness or leisure is necessary.

Bertrand Russell in his article, ‘in praise of idleness’ says, ‘I want to say, in all seriousness, that a great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by belief in the virtuousness Of WORK, and that the road to happiness and prosperity lies in an organized diminution of work.’
Bonnie Ulman and Robert Simmerman, PhD, who run the Haystack Group in Atlanta, tell WebMD that super or hyper exhaustion is a phenomenon of the last 10 years. "What we've found is that unlike burnout and stress of the '70s and early '80s, super exhaustion has several qualities that resemble a virus. First it does seem to be 'catching,' psychologically," says Simmerman.
He says, for example, that a super-exhausted husband who is physically and mentally depleted will 'spread' the 'virus' to his wife, who will then become 'depleted.' Mom and Dad will both spread it to children. "When that happens, there is really no place for these people to go to become replenished," he says.
Our own Narayan Murthy has this to say, ‘Being in the office long hours, over long periods of time, makes way for potential errors. My colleagues who are in the office long hours frequently make mistakes caused by fatigue. Correcting these mistakes requires their time as well as the time and energy of others. I have seen people work Tuesday through Friday to correct mistakes made after 5 PM on Monday.

Another problem is that people who are in the office long hours are not pleasant company. They often complain about other people (who aren't working as hard); they are irritable, or cranky, or even angry. Other people avoid them. Such behaviour poses problems, where work goes much better when people work together instead of avoiding one another. As Managers, there are things we can do to help people leave the office.’

It is during the idle time that you think freely and independently. It is during the idle time that new ideas are born. I think that is what Stevenson means when he says ‘ idleness does not consist in doing nothing.’
According to CEM Joad being civilised means:

1)Creating and or appreciating things beautiful
2)Thinking freely and living rightly
3)Maintaining justice and equality

One can hardly meet the requirements of Joad if there is no time from work. Entire life should not be spent in bread-earning activity.
I have come across many people who feel proud saying ‘ I am workoholic’. They think it is a virtue to be workoholic. There are many who say, ‘ time in the office is not enough, so I carry files home’. There are still others who make lives of subordinates miserable telephoning regularly late evenings.
An efficient manager is one who finishes his work within the time frame. Time is also an essential input. What is stress? Stress is the result of doing something beyond one’s capabilities.
Advice by the seniors is, work hard to fulfill your ambition. What a turn! In the classical age ambition was a tragic flaw. Macbeth’s tragic flaw was his ambition.

Many have read this poem while at school.
W. H. Davies
WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

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