Category Archives: working hours

Post-vacation Blues – What to Do?!

One part of my nice and long (but not long enough!) summer vacation I spent in Spain… visiting old friends and enjoying the easy life. More about this great trip shall follow a little later in the blog… This photo is from my friend’s flat – what a view to live with!

Freedom is a dangerous thing, at least for us office workers. When you get to taste a bit of it, (or maybe not even that little as I was free for most of the summer, almost 6 weeks…anyway) going back to the office is tough and the routine seems totally absurd: running from one meeting to another, receiving and answering random emails and eating lunch fast always at the same time and with the same people.

Worst of all is to sit the typical 8 hours 5 days a week inside the office – these hours seem like an eternity… Why, oh why, as during the vacation I was able to fit so many (nice) things in just one day – AND sleep late, if I felt like that!

been there…

The positive thing is that human being is a flexible creature and gets used to almost anything – amazingly fast. After 2 weeks in the office I have already almost forgotten the wonderful empty days and my freedom. Without complaining (too much) I wake up early from Monday till Friday and spend the whole day sitting on a chair in front of a computer inside the office, even if the sun is shining outside. Well, my colleagues tell me that the third week will be better. Let’s see…

However, I also notice that something curious is happening to me these days. Before the vacation I was quite ready to start looking for a new job. I felt frustrated with processes that become too big and messy and never result in anything concrete and frustrated with of my job description composed of 1001 miscellaneous things…

But most of all I got tired of the routine (as they say, the routine kills): having to spend 8 hours a day doing something that I wasn’t that convinced about. Why?!? In brief, my feeling was that I was wasting my days while the potential fun and interesting  life and all kinds of cool opportunities were drifting away from me – oh, if I only was brave enough to go and catch them!

However now, after summer vacation, I feel somehow more peaceful and positive. Perhaps the glimpse of freedom made me realize that in the end nothing in this life is permanent and that I CAN change my life whenever I want to.

So, instead of starting to look for another job, I now try to concentrate on the positive aspects, do my work as well as I can and try to develop personally, enjoy my colleagues and just ignore the negative things. Amazingly it really works! Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that tonight, surfing the Internet, I found this article:

If Your Job Sucks, It Might Be Your Fault; Let’s Fix That

And so it is! Before or later all the jobs start to suck:

“It’s inevitable. After enough time at any job, you have a day that really sucks. Then, eventually, maybe another. And another. Suddenly the job you loved starts to feel like, well, work. And bad work at that. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

But before leaving, there are many tricks and ways to try to make it all better… I would say that in many many cases these tricks truly work. And if they don’t, well, then it probably really is time to go. I’ll hang on – for some time now, at least – and with a smile! 🙂 Knowing that the day I honestly get enough, I’m free to move on…

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Working from home – or park, bar, beach or…

The last days at work before summer vacation tend to be a bit frustrating. At least at my office – just like in all the offices where I’ve worked before. As Björk sings,  it’s oh sooo quiet. After juhannus, the Finnish Midsummer I talked about in my earlier post, Helsinki becomes a desert city. The little email you receive consists of out of office notifications – or emails from abroad. No wonder, as 38% of Finns take their holidays in July.

I’m an exception as this year I’ll start my holiday later. So also next week I’ll sit almost alone in the office while the sun (so rare in Finland) is nicely shining outside and my Facebook newsfeed is filled with status updates describing all the wonderful things you can do on your vacation.

Anyway, I’m not bitter as my holiday will start soon enough. But as these days I’ve practically nothing to do and too much time to think, I’ve been wondering how much work capacity is being lost during these lazy and unproductive weeks before holidays? Either the employees’ mind is somewhere far away or they just don’t have nothing to do – except of trying to make the time go fast.

Of course many people like it that way, as you can do things you wouldn’t have time to do otherwise; archiving, reading work-related articles, thinking etc. For me this doesn’t really work. First, I should have drafted a To Do list earlier – now I’ve forgotten all that stuff I said I would do “when I’d have time”.

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” — Dorothy Parker. Credit: Brightlivelihoods.com.

Yesterday I met some friends who are in a very similar situation: still at work but not really doing anything. Those who can, decide not to spend the last days before holidays at the office but “working” from home, cafe, bar, park, beach… It sounds like fun but I guess it’s just about making the time a bit more tolerable. If I have to sit 8 hours in the office surfing the Internet, staring at the wall or reading random reports one can’t avoid thinking why, if I’m able to complete all the tasks in 2-3 hours?

The thing is that me and my friends really want to do something – if in any case we have to work. Most of my friends are talented and ambitious young people who have the capacity and urge to achieve things and stay active – otherwise you just get frustrated. At least I notice a clear correlation between my work motivation and things to do – less things to do = less motivation and efficiency.

Work can – and should – be fun and done in a nice environment. What bad can that possibly do to your performance?!

Luckily we found a kind of a solution with my friends. Instead of spending the days alone and frustrated it’s better to join forces and create synergies!  So we agreed to meet up in a cafe or a park, depending on the weather, and work together. This way we can enjoy the summer, help each other with our tasks (as we mostly work in similar fields), share experiences – and have fun while working! I’m convinced it’ll be as efficient a day as any – even more so.

All in all, my opinion is that in any creative workplace the employees should be given the freedom to work wherever they want to and feel comfortable in -when it’s possible. Why? I totally agree with Jason Fried on TedTalks asking “Why work Doesn’t Happen at Work?” These ideas should be considered in every office…

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Relaxed weekend vs success

This weekend I’ve been visiting my parents in my dear old hometown Tampere. More about this excellent city shall follow later on in the blog.

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Hämeensilta, the main bridge of Tampere. The statues have got decorated for "vappu, the 1st of May party.

All week I’ve been feeling tired and a bit stressed at work, so my plan for the weekend was only to relax. This is why I came to come to Tampere to my parents’ place. Enjoying their good company, great food supply, sauna and sofa cures anything. I told only one friend that I was coming to avoid any “obligations” to meet. Yesterday we did some successful shopping and enjoyed cava in a cozy restaurant H2 + K.

However, things normally don’t go as planned. Lately I’ve been writing quite actively as freelance journalist to some magazines and, because of my slight crisis at work and big need to develop myself as writer, I’ve been saying YES to all the enquiries to write something. So on Friday I promised to write an article about Pixelache festival and Helsinki African Film Festival, both to be held in Helsinki in May. As I’m “specialized” in writing about arts & culture…

The negative things is that deadline for both these articles is tomorrow. Thus, a big part of my “relaxed” weekend has been contacting interviewees, looking for background information, writing, editing and watching African films.

The paradox is: I love writing and I’m ambitious, but at the same time I feel a constant voice saying in my head “it’s weekend so please please relax – as you promised – and have some fun!” Of course, it’s not the first time when this happens. I really want to become a better writer and establish freelancer contacts with new publications, but this means working in the evenings and weekends. And I’m jealous about my freetime. I love, need and deserve it!

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Would I rather spend a Saturday evening with my friend and cava here or home alone working? 2h + K restaurant in Tampere.

This morning I read a column about success in Aamulehti, the daily newspaper of Tampere. The journalist asked himself, why he hadn’t become a professional photographer, which used to be his dream. In the end he said that he loved too much his “freedom to do whatever – or nothing at all”. And to succeed you need to concentrate on ONE thing and forget about everything else. It might not sound that hard, but it is. For me, this weekend it meant forgetting about the following:

  • Spending a whole evening on the sofa reading a good book – without a work-related thought on my mind.
  • Cooking and having a nice long dinner with my parents and enjoying some good red wine.
  • Visiting the new home of my friends, even if they live nearby.
  • Having a long, relaxed walk around the neighbourhood observing the spring around me.
  • Hanging around the centre of Tampere and having a coffee – without time limits – with my old friends. Concentrating on their stories – without thinking about my own work!
  • And, most importantly, having time just for doing nothing. This is very important for me, and anybody, to get totally relaxed and letting your thought flow freely and get some creative ideas…

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Sure, this is just one weekend, so I’t ok, but I definitely wouldn’t be ready to give up of all the spontaneity and fun in life just to become an excellent writer. Or excellent whatever. And they say, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I prefer to be happy and free than excellent at something – and I still don’t accept that these two things are incompatible! So for now I’ll shut down the laptop and go with my Dad to visit a fish market in Tampere.

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