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How Do You Define Work? Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 09 January 2007
I have noticed that there tend to be two different ways of deciding how much work a particular task will take (or has taken). I'm not talking about the Physics definition of work (w=fm), I'm talking about the plain old human idea of doing work and getting something done. When someone says "wow, that's going to take a lot of work" what are they referring to? That's what I'm talking about.
On the one hand I've seen people define the quantity of work by the amount of effort involved. They look at a project and make a judgement of how much physical, mental, or emotional energy they will have to spend to complete the job. The effort factor becomes the dominant factor in quantifying the work load.
On the other hand I've seen people define the quantity of work by identifying the amount of time the project is going to take. The effort involved is not as important as how long the whole thing will take.
I am solidly in the second category. When approaching a new task my first thoughts go to how long it will take to complete it. It has been this way for me for as long as I can remember. Even as a kid, when I was given chores to do I always evaluated them on how long they would take. In those times when I get to choose what jobs to do, I liked to pick the quickest ones. I would rather carry one 100lb barrel up a flight of stairs and then be done with the job than carry 10 10lbs barrels up the stairs. But I know there are other people who would much rather take the 10 trips with a lighter load.
When I first recognized this difference of perspective I thought it was gender based. Now, after talking with other people I'm not so sure. What is your perspective? Do you prefer short jobs regardless of the effort involved or do you prefer light effort without much regard to the time invovled?
 

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