I said something to a coworker yesterday, and it baffled her. In fact, I think it might have lowered her opinion of me. And this thing I said is central to how I operate, so I thought I'd roll it out here and see if I'm just messed up. Probably.
It has to do with laziness. That's a bad word for it, but it's the word I used at the time so I'll stick to it. My basic premise is that every organization needs a certain amount of laziness in it, to improve efficiency. We have this problem at my company where people do the most amount of work possible because they believe that produces the best end result. This leads to sixty hour weeks, fatigue, poor morale and a functional breakdown of the corporate engine. The quality of work suffers, and in the mean time you've wasted an enormous amount of time getting there.
The problem is that we don't value our own time. It doesn't matter that the company doesn't value our time, because it doesn't, but we as workers don't value our time. So if we get a high quality product by working 40 hours, but could be getting a high+1 quality product at 60 hours, people will put in those 20 hours for that +1.
And I won't.
I imagine this will become difficult at some point. It's built into the system. Here's an example: There was an unreasonable amount of design that had to be done for a project over the course of about two weeks. Many jobs going through the system. And, for reasons that are not entirely relevant, they were all going through a single designer. They tried to get some freelancers in here, but for various reasons weren't able to get people up to speed in time, so we only had one designer on the task. And she worked unreasonable hours. Slept two or three hours a night most nights, and over the weekend before the project was due did not sleep at all. That's correct. She stayed up for 48 hours straight to get the task done. This is what we do to people.
So back to laziness. Any rational person faced with that would say "Sorry, it's not going to happen." and things would fall as they would. We're not talking about putting out a fire or triaging patients, here. We're talking about direct mail. No one was going to die. You know what would have happened if we'd been late on that project? We'd pay rush charges on material delivery to the vendor. But that would cost money and, as previously described, our time is free.
I value my time. I don't look for reasons to work extra on a project. I produce good results in the minimum amount of time, with the minimum effort. If I doubled my hours would my results improve? Probably. But I'd be miserable.