On working hard for the money….

An interesting topic was brought up the other night. Work ethic.

Any time I hear the term “work ethic” I seem to cringe. Why? Because I’ve been accused of having a crappy one. My generation, in fact, has been accused of having some of the worst work ethics in the history of humanity. (Just wait until they see the NEXT generation, right?) We seem to often get accused of taking the easy way out or not sticking with something for longer than a nano-second or just plain being lazy.

I’m not quire sure what to call my generation.

Gen Xers are usually those born between 1961 and 1981, so I fall into that category, but 30 years is a bit broad.

Generation Y or the Millennials are those born between 1982 and 1995 (or 1796 and 1996 if you’re from Canada, but that’s just making up for the old exchange rate, I think).

I was born in 1980. I think I’d fall more into the Millennials than the Xers, but I also don’t like the idea of being lumped together with the likes of Justin Beiber. So I just don’t know what to officially consider people my age….the Techies, maybe? I have no idea.

But I do know that I’m part of the first generation to really grow up with computers at our disposal. Most of us probably had our first experience with computers in junior high, but there are people like my husband who have been around PCs since he could sit up on his own. We’re the first generation for whom our children likely will not surpass our technological knowledge and understanding. We’ll be able to keep up with them…heck, they might even have to try to keep up with us!

There is still quite a bit of technology that I’m not aware of and don’t understand at all. Things like the Smartboard, which is apparently this really amazing tool that teachers all through Denver Public Schools are using. I heard about it the other evening from two of my friends, both who work in education. It’s some pretty impressive technology that I didn’t have growing up. Hell, it was exciting when we got white boards in my school and could stop using those God-forsaken green chalkboards. I’m still a little unclear as to the purpose of the iPad, but I’m coming around (I don’t want one, but I am starting to understand why someone would).

So what does all of this have to do with work ethic?

I, along with many people my age, tend to spend a great deal of time on the ol’ interweb. We just do. Anything we want to do, find, see, or buy, we can get on the internet. It’s our amusement much of the time (case and point: ThisIsWhyYoureFat.com / TextsFromLastNight.com / PeopleOfWalmart.com / Endless.com …need I continue?). But why are we on the internet all the time?

Honestly?

Because we’re finished with our work. It’s true. We’re just that efficient. I’m not saying that other people aren’t. I’m just saying that I know how to finish my work quickly and effectively. I know how to do things with the least amount of effort output.

I know. I know. That last one doesn’t sit right, does it? However, aren’t we all supposed to be working smarter and not harder? People who sit and stare at the same document for hours boggle my mind. What are you doing? What do you need to figure out?

Technology has certainly made my generation remarkably more efficient, to be completely honest. And what’s so wrong with that? When did it become not okay to be efficient? I dare you to look at my inbox or my desk. My work is done. I’m trying to find more work. I don’t WANT to be bored stupid. In fact, I like the days when I’m too busy to take a lunch. I wish I had more of those days. I like feeling productive.

Just because I can finish something in a third the time it takes someone else certainly doesn’t mean I have poor work ethic. It usually just means I know my keyboard shortcuts much better.

But if technology has the ability to make someone more efficient, there has to be another side to it. Technology can also make us unimaginably lazy. I’ll be the first to admit that I rely really heavily on technology to do the work I hate, specifically: math. Microsoft Excel is my best friend, but sometimes, it has really bitten me when I’m working. I get going too quickly and trust a computer too much and I end up looking like a fool. I’ve actually been told, by my boss, on two separate occasions that I have GOT to slow down and make sure everything is correct. That’s a pretty big wake-up call.

I can be the most efficient person in the world, but if I have to do the same task three times because I wasn’t bright enough to slow down and double check the first time, am I really being all that efficient?

The answer, I assure you, is NO.

So the next time you see me playing on the internet, don’t get mad that I’m “not working”…consider for a moment that I’m finished with my work. Consider that I might just be really efficient. And I promise I’ll start slowing down to make sure I’m doing my work right the first time.

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