In episode 179 of The Long and The Short Of It podcast, hosts Pete and Jen argue that reading for knowledge should be considered “work”, and therefore it’s acceptable to do during the workday.
I don’t disagree, but it’s tricky.
I read quite a lot, and most of it is for the benefit of our business, but I do it almost entirely outside of the typical M-F/9-5 “working hours”. For me, it comes down to a few things:
- I need to be available when our team and clients are in order to get that work done. I can’t generally read through the afternoon, and then expect my team to hop on a call later in the evening.
- Part of it comes down to appearances. I think I’d feel like a slacker if I was kicked back in my office reading on my Kindle when one of our team walked it. Even if it really was “work”, it feels more like play and would look bad.
Pete puts it this way, which sums up how I feel as well:
I still grapple with this every single day, where if I have an hour in an afternoon free, I still struggle with the idea of using that to read a book because I guess that’s how society has conditioned me.
In a way, it’s similar to how I feel about golf. On one hand, it seems there are some people that golf all week long for seemingly dubious reasons (“just to get out of the office”). On the other hand, many of those types of people derive a huge number of sales out of those games of golf, so it’s really more business-like than it seems.
As my role continues to shift further away from “doing” and more toward “leading/growing”, I think this is an area that I need understand better so I can use it to the benefit of our team.
A related concept in that podcast episode is what Jen calls “Magic Time” — time that she specifically books on her calendar to help improve herself. It might be reading, or listening to a podcast, or going on a walk, or going to a museum.
For me, my mid-week tends to stay pretty full, but I could potentially see making some space like that on Monday or Friday. It’s a fascinating concept.
What do you think? Is reading considered to be work? Taking it further, would you be comfortable with your team knowing you were in your office reading while they were pushing to hit deadlines for your clients?