Monday, November 22, 2004

Work as Workout

Work as Workout

Everyday I ask myself the question: how do I use the day productively? And because I work for myself, the temptation to abuse the freedom is always great.

Everyday, I have to remind myself that I need to keep on learning, exploring new possibilities and driving things to happen. There must be a forward momentum all the time, a snowballing effect to all activities.

It is always very tempting to just indulge in things that bring me immediate pleasure--such as reading a good book, chit-chatting with friends, surfing the Net or watching a movie. But I've developed the habit of using these simple pleasures as tiny rewards for work done.

Work is easier if it is divided into manageable chunks with small rewards tied to its completion. Writing a hundred page technical report can be a very daunting and laborious task; if I imagine one hundred pages of blank paper staring at me waiting to be filled, then I might not even have the motivation to start at all.

But if I tell myself that for the next two hours, I'll complete the section on say, datacenter infrastructure and then reward myself with some teh tarik and nasi lemak at my favourite mamak stall, then I am more inclined to start work. Of course, I can always skip work and go straight to my nasi lemak; but I mentally reinforce to myself that rewards "earned" through hardwork always tastes a lot better.

Once a piece of work is done, there's a satisfying sense of accomplishment, no matter how small the work is. You know that it is good work if it has a transformational effect--either on yourself or the enterprise that you're working for, because creative energy has been released into the universe.

Good work will always do you good; it's like a workout session in the gym--you get rewarded immediately because it makes you feel fresh, energetic, relaxed and cheerful. A workout has transformational effect--your body grows healthier and your mind becomes stronger.

If you treat work like a workout, work will always work for you.

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