A few weeks ago, I published Mitchell Pauly’s post about slacking off at work.  It was, of course, hilarious….but it also got me thinking about my old job and how my attitude has changed over the years.  While I loved my old job, it actually taught me a lot about work attitudes and life in general.  Now that I work at home, and for myself, I have an even greater appreciation for where I’ve been and how I got to where I am now.  So, without further adieu, here are my thoughts on working hard and on working for somebody else:

When I first got a job at the funeral home with Greg, I was absolutely obsessed with doing everything perfectly.  I would come in early, stay late, and perform superhuman tasks to get the job done…and to get it done right.  No task was too big or to small and I frequently snapped at others who weren’t doing their share.  I was bossy… but I was efficient and great at my job.  Unfortunately, I was also extremely stressed.  I also cared way too much about everything that was going on.

Then, at a certain point, I looked around and realized that I was the only one who did care.  While I was obsessing over the details, my co-workers were often rolling their eyes, checking Facebook, and wondering what the hell my problem was.  “Just stop caring so much,” my coworkers would often say.  But, was that really the answer?  Should I really stop caring so much about the job that I was getting paid to do?  Shouldn’t we all try to  care more instead of me caring less?

Over time, I just got sick of worrying about things that even my bosses didn’t seem that interested in.  Instead of focusing on being perfect and giving 100 percent, I started doing less and caring less.  And no one seemed to notice.  At least, they didn’t show it if they did.  Regardless, they never confronted me about slacking off and stepping down my efforts.  In fact, I continued to be rewarded financially despite the fact that I was only putting about half of the effort that I had in the first few years.

Caring less about my job was very beneficial for my mental health as well.  When something went wrong, I stopped stressing out about it for days and weeks.  I still wanted to do a good job, but I only wanted to work as hard as my co-workers did.  Gone were the days of busting my ass while others were playing Bejeweled Blitz and screwing around.  When I had work to do, I worked.  And when I didn’t have much to do, I quit overexerting myself.  After all, why would I continue to put myself out when nobody else was?

Then We Started a Blog

Once we started our blog, I started putting in crazy hours before work, after work, and on the weekends.  We would often get up at 6:00 a.m. to write before work then go at it all evening after we got home.  The weekends were the same; while our friends were out partying, we were writing blog posts, editing, and commenting.  The more time we put in, the more our blog grew.  Then, at a certain point, I was able to quit my job and pursue freelance writing and blogging full-time.

Things are different now for obvious reasons.  Since I’m self-employed, slacking off would only cause me to take a cut in pay.  And, to be honest, I kind’ve miss the days when I was paid just to show up at work, no matter whether we were busy or not.  I miss getting a big fat company check regardless of whether or not our clients paid or the property taxes on our building went up.  Still, if I went to work for someone else again, I think I would put in slightly more effort than everyone else did, but not much more than that.  And, I wouldn’t drive myself crazy over someone else’s business again, especially if my extra efforts always went unnoticed.   I did exactly that for far too long.  And, after years of constant stress and frustration, I now realize that it just isn’t worth it.

What about you?  Do you think it’s important to work as hard as you can at your job?  Or, do you just work as hard as required?