Your Next Job Should be Fun

work and smile

As humans we tend to prefer short term rewards over long term gains and this is true even in a job search. We don’t think about the day to day of life when we think about the dream job – or just the next job. When you are looking for a new job think about what is fun for you. Having a good time at your job is more important than getting a higher salary.

It looks like the old adage “do what you love” could be true after all.

In the workplace, we are similarly well aware that it is much easier to get out of bed in the morning if our job is interesting and our colleagues are fun to be around. But we care much less about such benefits when we apply for a future job. We fail to realize that the person we are in the present — the one who values intrinsic benefits — is awfully similar to the person we will be in the future.

This failure to know ourselves is not unique to employees. Gymgoers, for example, say it is important that their present workout is fun and relaxing, yet they care less about whether their future workout provides these benefits as long as it helps them stay in shape. The result is that people often sign up for the wrong gym class — the one that is best at maximizing delayed health benefits yet fails to deliver an enjoyable experience in the moment.

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6 Hour Workdays Work Fine

Office room
The eight hour work week that has become standard in the developed world is a result of the industrial revolution and the efforts of unions for reasonable working conditions (without unions who knows how long the workday would be!). Today the long workday doesn’t seem to be justified though. In Sweden a municipal government experimented with a six hour workday and, for the most part, it worked out fine. Inspired by that experiment Swedish companies have been trying the six hour workday and have noticed no decrease in productivity – meaning you can have two more hours to living and it won’t negatively impact your employer.

“Our staff gets time to rest and do things that make them happier in life,” says CEO Maria Brath. “For example, cook good food, spend time with family and friends, exercise. This, then, is profitable for the company, because the staff arrives at work happy and rested and ready to work.”

As in most jobs, employees there likely wouldn’t work for a full eight hours even if they were in the office longer. “Our work is a lot about problem solving and creativity, and we don’t think that can be done efficiently for more than six hours,” she says. “So we produce as much as—or maybe even more than—our competitors do in their eight-hour days.”

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3 Day Weekends Can Future Proof Work

A more efficient work week comes from rest, relaxation, and working less. We’ve looked at the idea that a more relaxed approach to work makes things better for everybody before (maybe to the point where I sound anti-work). Now there are more arguments for a shorter work week that are worth looking at.

For one, it can help keep people employed as more automation occurs across all sectors. And another reason is that it can save money and the environment by reducing the time spent commuting and running an office.

It’s happened before. For example, in 2007 Utah redefined the working week for state employees, with extended hours Monday to Thursday meaning it could eliminate Fridays entirely. In its first 10 months, the move saved the state at least $1.8 million in energy costs. Fewer working days meant less office lighting, less air conditioning and less time spent running computers and other equipment — all without even reducing the total number of hours worked.

For one day a week, thousands of commuters were able to stay at home. If the reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions from travel were included, the state estimated a saving of more than 12,000 tons of CO2 each year.

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Economic Equality and Social Time Make People Happy

Modern economists and too many politicians argue that economic growth in itself will make people happier. They are wrong. Economic growth doesn’t bring happiness to societies, but decreasing economic inequality does. Another (unsurprising) element also raises people’s happiness: spend more time being social than working. I can only imagine the confusion people who follow the Chicago school are experiencing after reading this paragraph.

The modern world has been built upon the idea that a bigger GDP causes a bigger GNH, which has led to problems we need to address. Automation is causing unemployment of repetitive tasks that used to be a stable career. On top of that, cities are suffering from growing inequality. So what do we do as a society? Jonathan Rose ponders this question at the Atlantic.

But there is a deeper reason. Happiness is tied to what Deaton calls emotionally enriching social experiences. Kahneman says, “The very best thing that can happen to people is to spend time with other people they like. That is when they are happiest.” The way people spend their time is also a critical component of sense of well-being. In another study Kahneman and his colleagues tracked how people experience their day by asking them to record events in fifteen-minute intervals and evaluate them. Walking, making love, exercise, playing, and reading ranked as their most pleasurable activities. Their least happy activities? Work, commuting, child care, and personal computer time. How many people really enjoy a night of plowing through endless emails?

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Get Some Rest


You might think that productive people never stop working and don’t get any rest, that means you might be wrong. All of us need to take breaks to refresh ourselves and permit our bodies and minds to reset. In the modern working environment it’s easy to get pressured to always be busy, but you should try your hardest to not be. Take a breather and relax on a regular basis and you just might find that (almost ironically) you’ll be more productive.

Why does modern work culture undervalue rest and encourage nonstop busyness?
It seems self-evident that more work equals more output. This is true of machines, so why shouldn’t it be true of us? Well it’s not. We have adopted industrial-age attitudes, and they don’t really work for us. There is also a long-standing assumption that not working hard is morally suspect.

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Thanks to Delaney!