The alarm goes off late. Again.
It’s 7:30 and you’ve got your mandatory staff meeting at 9:00. You rush through your devotions (promising God—and yourself—you’ll get to them later), dress, down a cup of coffee and head out to the car.
The commute is brutal. The guy in front of you is riding his break and the lady behind you is riding your tail.
At 8:50, you pull into the parking lot. You race to your cubicle, drop off your stuff and you’re off to the board room. You get there at 8:59, just before the door’s about to close.
By 9:10, you’re fiddling with your iPhone under the table trying to catch up on your emails like a good multi-tasker. The guy next to you is playing Angry Birds and trying to look like he’s paying attention to whatever it is the boss is talking about.
If you had to be honest, you stopped paying attention at 9:02.
There was no agenda for the meeting (again). No action items will be given (again). And no follow-up (again).
“Why on earth am I sitting through this? I could be working,” you think (and text to your assistant who tries hard not to laugh).
At 10:13, the meeting lets out. The boss went long again. You and your coworkers are stressed; the meeting was only supposed to last until 9:30. In some ways you’re kind of impressed. it’s got to be tough to talk about nothing for that long. You skip the after-meeting meeting though, because you’re a busy guy.
You get back to your desk and start looking at the pile of work in your inbox. There’s enough work to keep four people busy for the next two weeks!
It’s all marked urgent.
You settle into your projects and just as you’re starting to get into a good rhythm, there’s a knock on the side of the cubicle wall. “Hey guys, can I interrupt? It’ll just take a minute…”
An hour later, you’re done the impromptu meeting. It ends in the same way all the other impromptu meetings do: It accomplished nothing.
It’s 11:45 and you’ve got a lunch meeting with a new client. You rush out of the office, hoping that no one will notice you leaving. Unfortunately, someone does.
“Going out for lunch again? Must be nice,” he mutters.
You brush it off and race to your meeting. You’re already five minutes late.
An hour and a half later, you wrap up your meeting and head back to the office.
“Better watch out; the boss is looking for you,” your cube-mate says.
Crap. You check your to-do list; nope, nothing due today. Just as you start to get into another good work rhythm, your boss stops by.
“Got a minute?”
An hour and a half later, you’ve got another two major projects. They’re due on Friday.
By now, it’s 4:30. You’ve accomplished absolutely nothing so far. Do you call your wife and let her know that you’re going to be late for supper (again)? Instead, you say to heck with it, try to wrap up what you can, pack up the laptop and do some more work after supper.
You’re distracted through your meal; your wife gives you the eye. You’re fidgeting with your phone, answering emails when you should be talking to your family.
After the kids are in bed, you settle into a hard night’s work. At 11:45, your wife says, “It’s really late. We need to get some sleep.”
Reluctantly, you agree.
You shut down the laptop. Brush your teeth, mumble a quick prayer and kiss your wife goodnight.
You forgot to read your Bible.
“I’ll do it tomorrow,” you tell yourself as you fall into a fitful sleep.
Does this story seem ridiculous to you? Or does it seem a bit too much like your life?
Sadly for many of us, this is our daily routine. We go to work every day, accomplish nothing, deal with meetings where nothing happens and grow increasingly stressed out and spiritually empty.
But is that any way to live? And who said that that’s what work is supposed to be like?
As Christians, we’re called to “work heartily, as for the Lord and not men” (Col. 3:23). Hard work, while never easy, is truly an act of worship.
So what do we do with a work culture that just kind of… sucks?
About a year ago, I changed how I work as part of a small pilot program in our office. I’ve moved into a Results Only Work Environment.
Here’s the big idea: Basically, I work where I want, how I want, when I want… as long as my work gets done. And my work is to be done with excellence.
Because I’m kind of a solitary person by nature, I work best when I’m alone, can tune out every other distraction and just focus. In order to do that, I have to be able to avoid constant (but often well-meaning) interruptions, phone calls, unnecessary meetings…
Basically all the things that an average day at work consist of.
The big idea behind this move was to help me become more productive in order to meet the increasing needs of the organization (I’m currently the only writer presently on staff in our office, although another one is coming), and also continue to develop my skills as a writer.
Do more work and do it consistently better. That’s been my mandate.
And you know something? It’s working. The work I do today, by God’s grace, is 100% better than what I was doing a year ago. And that was better than the year before that. I’m confident that next year, my work will be even better than this year (and if not, I probably need to get a kick in the rear because it means I’ve stopped trying or caring).
But there’s been another added benefit to changing how I work:
A results only work environment has actually helped me grow in my faith.
Well, because I’m (mostly) in control of my time, I don’t have to rush through my reading. I can take the time to prayerfully read my Bible; instead of rushing through and hoping to get a little nugget, I can “chew” on the Scriptures for a while and think deeply.
I’m able to do simple things like hang out with my kids during the day and give them some of my best hours, rather than the exhausted last couple before they go to bed. Usually once a week, Abigail and I head out for one of our Daddy-daughter dates in the morning. It’s awesome! I get to invest in her; we spend time together and she gets to see her daddy loving her as a daddy should.
Thirdly, I’m able to help my wife whenever she needs it without her worrying about me having to take time off. The freedom I have to manage my time allows me to love my wife in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. This is a very good thing indeed.
Fourthly, I’m able to minister to people more effectively, especially those who have rotating schedules. I can meet with a younger guy who I really enjoy and talk about faith with him when it’s convenient for him.
Finally, a results only work environment actually helps me to enjoy my job. I’m better equipped to see real progress in my ability. I’m better able to stand back and see what’s being accomplished. And I’m able to actually enjoy the people I work with; when I come into the office, it’s no longer a burden to chat with coworkers, it’s actually a pleasure.
These are a few of the ways that a results only work environment has helped me.
Could it help you?