After the fourth time I opened the book in less than an hour, a few words from the page seemed to jump out at me.
“It is a matter of ordinary common sense to plan working hours so that the workers can really “work while they work” and “play while they play,” and not mix the two. (p44)”
Have I really been so crazy as to mix work and play? Did I forget what I had just read the day before? Should I be on Facebook and have iTunes open while I am writing this paper? Whenever I think about it, I have always been taught to focus on what you were doing and to perform at the best of your ability. Since my dad was a practicing engineer, the ideas of efficiency, focus, and labor productivity were preached from a very young age. I just didn’t always listen.
As a young kid, my brothers would take me down our street to meet up with our neighbors for our weekly hockey game. Being the youngest of five children, I was always biting my three older brother’s heels to let me go with them wherever they went. One thing that was very hard for me to grasp, while playing sports with my three older brothers, was their ability to turn on and off their aggression and attitudes. What I did not understand is that they were focused on winning, achieving a goal. I was simply out there to have fun and learn from these educated men. Often times, I would fall down and scrape my knee. As tears rolled down my face, there were my once opponents and enemies now acting as my older brothers to help me.
This same fundamental on/off switch is carried over in all the sports I play. With soccer, before the game I try to calm my body and mind. I think about everything except soccer. But once the whistle blows to begin the game; all my focus, all my determination, and all my energy is put into a team goal to win the game. For me, work is a game. While I am playing that game, there is nothing that can distract me from accomplishing my goal. When the final whistle blows, there are no grudges held. The opposing players that I fouled and yelled at are the ones I am shaking hands with and sharing a laugh.
One way in which this quote is directly applied to my life is through my brother. Much like what Taylor talks about in the book, bricklayers are on a very tight schedule. There were many studies put together showing that more bricks were laid in 7 ½ hours than in 8 hours. The masons are given two 15 minute coffee breaks during their 8 hour shift so they can rest their fatigued hands. The employer will now be laying more brick per day, have a better work environment (workers receive two breaks), and will be overall more efficient.
My dad always tells me that I remind him of him. Although I may not always see what he saw, the same type of problems he faced are very similar to the ones I face now. He would always tell me how to do things better and remind me to “Focus on what you are doing”. There comes a time when one is to work and one is to play. The fine line that separates the two is often straddled unknowingly. To be successful, you must be able to control your focus. But in order to control your focus, you must first be focused.