When you try to decide should you stay at your job or should you quit, you probably focus on the part of your job that is not core to you. For example, getting coffee for the boss. You do that and then your boss teaches you, say, how to review a fashion show in Milan. Not a bad trade. For some people.
You can complain about the getting coffee part of any job, but there is not job without its getting-coffee equivalent. We spend a lot of time looking for “the perfect job, but instead of trying to eliminate the bad parts of a job, try focusing on what part of your day is fulfilling core needs for you, and make sure your job facilitates that fulfillment.
Then manage the annoying parts. Do them quickly to make sure you spend your time on what you like. And get out of the type of work that is so frustrating that it would be a deal breaker.
In this respect, finding a job you like has a lot to do with how you manage your time in that job.
I interviewed Ann Althouse a while back for a time management column I was writing. I picked her because she is a law school professor at University of Wisconsin- Madison Law School, and she writes one of the most popular blogs on politics. I thought she’d have good time management tips because she has two very time-consuming jobs.
I thought the interview was a bust, because unlike everyone else I interviewed, she didn’t come up with a list of tips for me. But I realize now, six months later, that she came up with philosophical tips for time management. Her tip is that in order to manage time well, you have to be philosophically clear on what your life is about and where your fulfillment comes from.
Ann wants to write about constitutional law. That’s her field. She wants to get non-legal types talking about the difficult legal issues that are at the core of our country. But she realizes that a constitutional law blog would be dead on arrival: “If I said this is all law all the time I wouldn’t have the lay readers that I like engaging on legal topics.”
So she blogs about politics in order to retain her audience and then she slips in constitutional law issues when they come up. She thinks of her blog as fulfilling her calling – to educate people about constitutional law.
I asked her if it’s hard to blog about topics that are not central to her interest and she said: “You can’t like everything you do.”
This is obvious, yet many of us spend a lot of energy trying to get around this nonnegotiable truth. She inadvertently gave great advice about managing a career: It is worthwhile to do something that is not core to you in order to get to the part that is truly your calling.
But even Althouse has her limits. When it comes to the blog, the comments are the biggest problem for her. So she doesn’t exactly read them. “I spend a second on each one to make sure nothing terrible is happening…There is no amount of time management that can make you do something you don’t want to do.”