How many hours are you really working today?

If you are reading this, I’m 95% confident you are probably at work. Do you know what that means? It means you aren’t actually “working”, unless your boss pays you to read my blog (which would probably have to be the coolest job in the world right?).

I’ve been talking with a bunch of friends recently about how productive they are during their work day. Some of them work solid 10 hour days, every day, even though they only get paid for 8, but the LARGE majority of them confessed to only being productive 2-4 hours a day.

I had a job in college as a ‘building manager’. It essentially meant I got paid to sit behind a desk in a large campus building and answer questions that students had. My shifts usually lasted 4 to 6 hours and I maybe put in a solid 30 minutes of work each time. It got really bad when I worked the late shift (6pm to 11pm). No one would go to the building I worked in at night, so after 5pm it was a ghost town. Sometimes, I would just leave a note that said “If you need help please call…”. I’d leave my cell phone number and then go visit friends in the dorms or go back to my place and watch TV. It was either get paid to sit behind a desk in solitude, or get paid to watch TV in my apartment. The choice wasn’t a difficult one.

Was this unethical? Perhaps, but let’s be real, not even YOU work 100% of the hours you are paid for. Heck, I’m sure your bosses frequently fall short of their obligation too. I realize some jobs (physician) really don’t allow slacking off, but for everyone else, a good chunk of time is probably spent surfing the web, reading the news, chatting with coworkers, taking a little longer lunch than allowed, etc.

So I’m asking a huge favor of you all today, Be bold, be honest, be real, and share how many hours you think you will legitimately work today. You already have to deduct the amount of time you’ve spent reading this post 🙂 If you don’t want to “out” yourself, you can always comment anonymously to keep your identity hidden. I’m guessing the majority are gonna fall between 5-7 hours.

Are you crazy, or am I?

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at Nov 24, 2009, 9.46.05 PMSo apparently I’m the only PF person in the world that would consider taking a job cleaning sewers if the pay was substantial. I’m not going to say I’m surprised by that. I actually had Girl Ninja read yesterday’s post before it went live and she mirrored the same thoughts you all did. I have a thousand different arguments and justifications for why I am right and you all are lame, but in reality, when it’s one versus thirteen, I must be the crazy one.

I’ve been fortunate enough to never have a job I hated. Sure, I’ve had some that were not ideal, but I’ve always managed to make whatever I’m doing enjoyable. I’m too young, too ambitious, and too happy to put myself in a crappy work environment. My question, to all of you who commented yesterday that you had jobs you hated: Why? Was it your attitude? Was it the people? The pay? Why the heck didn’t you quit the second you despised it? Surely you could have found some type of employment elsewhere? If money was not important, then why didn’t you quit immediately and apply to McDonald’s?

Okay, moving on. I mentioned yesterday, there was one exception to my willingness to work anywhere for a CRAZY HIGH salary. Wanna know what that exception is? Time. I would never work somewhere that required more than 50 hours a week of work. That’s right, I said never. Not even for the coolest, sweetest, awesomest job in the world. Work has never been, and will never be what is most important to me. Family, friends, and fun will always come before work.

I was talking with a physician the other day, and he mentioned he works a little over 100 hours a week. Holy guacamole! I realize there are other work-a-holics out there, perhaps some reading this, that work 70, 80, 90 hour weeks. It makes sense to work a lot, if work is at the top of your priorities. For me it hasn’t been, nor will it ever be. I’ll give you 40 hours of my week, occasionally more, but never will I spend more waking hours “on the clock” than I will off.

I may be willing to be a pooper scooper for $100,000/yr, but I would never be a professional ice cream taster working 60 hours a week for similar pay. So now let’s run another poll. If you had to be at a job that you weren’t particularly fond of (think lawn mower) for 40hrs/wk, or you could have a job you enjoyed (think rodeo clown) but had to work 60hrs/wk, what would you do? You know my opinion, what’s yours?

Most jobs have their price

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Dude, I would totally work just about any job if the money was right. You name it, manual labor, pedicurist, port-o-potty cleaner, pay me enough and I’ll submit my application. Does this make me a “sellout”? Possibly. After all, I would be working for “the money” and not “the passion”. Well guess what ya’ll. I’m a freakin’ sellout.

The inspiration for this post came from a conversation I had with my roommate the other day. It went a little like this….

Him: Would you work a job you didn’t enjoy if it paid a lot?

Me: Yes.

Him: Really? You don’t think you would end up unhappy in the end?

Me: No

Him: Care to explain.

Me: Not really, but I’m gonna go eat a twinkie.

Okay, well that’s not exactly how the conversation went. I basically told him, that no matter how miserable the job, I think money can help make things less miserable. That’s not to say that money can buy happiness, but it can definitely help.

My dreaded career would be anything involving history (I hate history). I would despise having to read old books, about old people, who did things a really long time ago. No offense to any historians out there, it’s just not my thing. But if you pay me $200,000/yr to read about Mesopotamia, you’ll get yourself one historically educated ninja ready for work.

Although money wouldn’t change the type of work I was doing, it would definitely change my attitude. And even though I may sacrifice a little bit of my happiness from 9 to 5, I’d totally be able to make up for it during my time off. Work might suck, but I still imagine my overall quality of life would be pretty epic.

Sure I would “sell my soul” for most positions, but I do have ONE exception to that rule. You are gonna have to come back tomorrow though to see what that exception is. So how bout it? Would you be willing to do some “less than desirable” work for a RIDICULOUSLY higher pay? And for those that totally disagree….care to share what jobs you would never do, no matter what the pay?

Help Gertrude out!

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One of my favorite parts about having a blog is getting reader mail. I love when people ask questions. Not because I think I can provide some incredibly insightful advise, but it affirms that people value my opinion. Instead of me directly responding to the following email, I figured I’d post it up here and we can all help her out. After all, 20 opinions are better than one….right? Here’s the email…

I graduated in 2005 with a BA in psychology and realized I did not want to go into working in counseling. Now I am unsure what to do as I have spent the last 4 years in a couple of dead end jobs: customer service, travel industry, waitress and bartender. I have no idea where to even begin. It is too late for me to take internships and I have no way of knowing if I sign up for graduate school if I will like the job in the end. I am thinking of HR management or international relations, as I would like to one day work for the foreign service, however knowing how hard it is to get in, I would be happy in HR in a government position. It is just so frustrating to find oneself with a college degree and no qualifications to do anything but wait tables or be a customer service rep. Any advice is appreciated.

-Gertrude

Well thanks Gertrude for a delicious piece of humble pie. Last week I wrote an article about my quarter-life crisis, but after reading Gerdies E-mail, realized I need to be darn thankful for the position I have. Anyways, on to my thoughts…

Gertrude, I think it’s important to not limit yourself because of your degree. I too received a degree in Psychology, but don’t really use it in my position. Don’t limit your career choices because of the degree you received. Upwards of 50% of college grads work in a field unrelated to their course of study. If you want to work in HR, pursue HR. If you want to be a trapeze artists, join a circus. You can’t change your degree, but you can certainly change your career.

Turn what could be seen as a negative situation and make it positive. Maybe you haven’t held steady employment over the last couple years, but explain to your potential employers what you DID learn and how you grew from your part-time employment. Make yourself stand out, be positive, and be confident.

I wouldn’t recommend graduate school for you, primarily because you’re not 100% sure that’s what you want to do. Grad school is a HUGE decision and can cost a pretty penny. Remember, holding a degree, masters, or PhD doesn’t guarantee income….ever. The worst thing you could do for yourself is get a masters in a field you end up hating, be $50K in debt, and another 2-3 years behind on work experience. Hold off on the grad school for now, until you get a better idea of exactly what you want to be doing.

If you want to work for the government in an HR capacity go to USAJobs.gov and start applying. That is where 99% of all federal positions are listed. Lastly, apply for EVERY job you want, even if you think you’re under-qualified. The wost thing the company could do is tell you “No.” which is not that bad in my opinion. If you are applying to positions you truly want,  it only takes one offer to change your life.

That’s my $0.02 for Gertrude (by the way that is a fake name I made up for her). Now it’s your turn to throw down some comment love and help a girl out. What do you do if you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, but you’re already an adult?

*feel free to shoot me an email if you got a question*

Time for a quarter-life crisis

I’m hoping today’s post will be therapeutic, not so much for your benefit, but for mine (I know, I’m selfish). I was on a walk with Girl Ninja the other day and we grabbed some dinner at Subway. All three of the Subway employees appeared to be in their mid 20’s. I walked out slightly depressed that I didn’t work at Subway.

Yeah I know….I’m freakin’ crazy. I have a pretty awesome job, but sometimes I wish my job was kinda lame. Deep down inside I dream of working at Starbucks, McDonalds, or Costco. Why? Because they can all be part time and have flexible shifts. I went from immature college senior to special agent working for the government in just a couple months.

I thought it was an unwritten law: After college you must bum off mom and dad for a couple years, work a part time job, spend your free time hanging out with friends and backpack Europe (twice). After two years in the workforce, I’m feeling like McDonalds wouldn’t be so bad. Not because I hate my job, but I would love the freedom to have a completely fluid work schedule. 

I know, I shouldn’t be whining like a little school girl right now. There are a ton of college graduates out there that would love to do what I do. Heck, I love doing what I do, but sometimes I’m a little envious of the part-time lifestyle. I was blessed to get the job I did, and know it’s going to pay off huge in the long run, but the kid-ninja inside of me just wants to rap to Ludacris and play some video games, maybe even watch a little Spongebob.

Am I the only one suffering from a minor quarter-life crisis? Anyone else experience a little “Holy crap, I’m kind of an adult” moment? Will my passion to be part-time slowly fade? Or am I doomed to envy those that live on their parents couch forever?

I aint need no Kollege

After two years in the work force, I’m learning a lot about the way the world works. Particularly in reference to my college degree. It really is funny how much emphasis has been placed on the value of a bachelors. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re important, but to be perfectly honest…I don’t really need it for the job I’m doing.

I honestly didn’t take one class that is even remotely related to my career. I know, I know college is not necessarily about the degree you receive, but the work ethic necessary to reach graduation day. But why is a degree an ABSOLUTE requirement for most professional positions?

Take for example family physicians. They have to take all kinds of science and math classes as prerequisites for medical school. I’m sorry, but I don’t really remember the last time my doctor needed to know the formula for the inelastic collision of two objects. I’m pretty sure he just needs to know what my body temperature should be, how fast my heart should be beating, and other random stuff about my body. Why are physics and calculus a requirement for ALL doctors? I don’t care if my doc knows how to do integrals, I want to know if he can cure my gonnohrea cold. Best way to cure someone of their sickness is to be exposed to a million other people with that sickness, not take earth science.

Think about how different life would be without mechanics. We would all be screwed and have no way to get our cars fixed. I’m taking a shot in the dark, but I’m willing to bet most mechanics didn’t go to college. Instead, they shadow and work with mechanics day in and day out for years, and eventually (if they know their ‘ish) will get to work on cars without supervision. Why doesn’t that philosophy apply to more positions. A degree is required for my position, but I can tell you right now, I don’t think anything I do is beyond the intellectual capacity of an 18 year old, although it is above the maturity of most kids that age.

Some of you may be getting a little offended thinking I’m saying your degree is useless. Sorry, but it’s probably true. The primary reason a degree is valuable is because society says so. Be honest, is your degree absolutely essential to your position. Not meaning is it a requirement to get the job, but would you be a total waste of space at work without it? All I’m saying is I think “on the job” training is really what helps us be great employees, not a bland degree in business administration.

p.s. if you are a physician, thanks for suffering through o-chem and microbiology, my body appreciates it 🙂

When in doubt, go overseas

My first international business trip has taught me some valuable life lessons. For example, don’t drink the water. Maybe I’m naive, but I only thought this was true for Mexico and Kazakhstan, didn’t know it was a virtually universal rule. Jet lag exists. I always thought it was some excuse people made for being cranky and/or lame. I did experience my first taste of jet lag on this trip, but I still think the term is overused. Jet lag for a flight from New York to China…maybe. From New York to New Jersey….I don’t think so. Lastly, and the most important lesson, people make bank when working abroad.

There are a couple different private companies, where I currently am, that work on various government contracts. I have spoken with quite a few of the employees and am quickly realizing, they have the sweet life. Their incomes are average, but the benefits are second to none. I make $50K a year, but someone here can make $35K and walk away with more in their pocket. Here are a couple of the benefits all local defense contractor employees receive….

No federal income tax. Talk about a freakin’ sweet deal. That right there automatically saves them 15%-30% of their income. They do pay a 5% tax to the local government, but I’d rather pay 5% than 25% any day.

No housing costs. It’s all 100% paid for by the company. If you’re single you live in “dorm style” housing. If you’re married or have kids you get a small little two bedroom house. Sure, the living arrangements aren’t the most “contemporary”, but I’d live in a cardboard box in San Diego if it were free.

No food costs. When I learned the employee’s here don’t pay for food, I just about pooped myself. There is a buffet style dining hall, that everyone has access to at no cost to them. Granted eating in the same dining hall could get old, but they can go spend their money at the grocery store or the food court if they want.

No automobile, cell phone, internet, TV, water/electric bill related costs. Thats’ right all the bills that nickel and dime us, don’t exist out here. Since it is a military base, internet and tv are provided to everyone. There isn’t a cell phone tower for 1000’s of miles, so no cost there, and the island I’m on is so small, it’s a bike only island. Imagine no car payments, no insurance, and no gas.

I’m sure there are even more benefits to working for a US company in a different country, but this is what I’ve heard about so far. To depress me further, I did some quick number crunching to figure out exactly how much I’m paying to live in California. I make $50K, but calculating in all the costs I mentioned above, it’s more like $30K. I really had no clue someone can have a lower income, but make more money than me. I guess the $20K I’m paying each year to live in the states must be worth it…right?