sylvain courcoux

internet entrepreneur

my blog

My definition of work

When you ask someone what they're doing, the answer often times sounds like "I'm busy working on XYZ". Everybody's busy. In the US, I think it's taboo to say you're not busy; so it seems like everyone is always busy. But does that mean it's converting into work? Not necessarily. I've come up with a definition of work that I think separates what people say they're doing and what they're actually doing into a definition of work that delivers result.
First, for something to be called work, there needs to be time spent. If you've crammed something together in a few hours in the last minute of the last moment, then you haven't really done work. I think work takes time and needs to be polished and refined in order to be called finished work. If the output is a last minute thing, then it usually means that it's going to be incomplete, rough, and at best it can be called a good beginning or work-in-progress, but not work.
Second, there needs to be some sort of visible transformation. Many times I've heard people say "I've been working the whole day" and when you ask to see their work, there's nothing to look at. If you're coding then it's easy to see lines of code that change. More difficult is when work involves thinking or talking, such as sales. If you've been truly working, then at a minimum the output should be emails, notes, call logs or something that shows time spent transforming things. So if you're not visibly transforming something, then in my mind you're not really working; and there are a lot of people who do a whole lot of nothing.
Third, work needs to be usable as an input for others. So for instance, if you're working on a putting together functionality specifications then that spec needs to be usable by a programmer without the programmer asking "there's a button there, what do you want it to do?" or "here are bunch of Illustrator files" but they're not print-ready and usable. Work is about producing an output that's useable as an input as-is. If more needs to be done before it can be usable, then the work's not done. Or it's just a self-serving hobby. But in any case, works need to be usable by others.
So that's my definition of work: time spent transforming things into usable inputs for others to use.