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In my day job as a data scientist, I work with data (go figure) all day long. Someone hands me a data set, I clean it up, analyze it, build models, create visualizations, and produce reports. These reports give insight to business leaders in my company, which helps them make more informed decisions.
Oddly, this type of work is exactly what I choose to do for fun outside of my day job. For this blog, I often hunt down financial data on the web – data on income, salaries, net worth, jobs, rent prices, food prices, stock returns, cost of living – and clean it up, analyze it, visualize it, create blog posts about it, and share it with the world.
Related: Every visual I have ever created
So, why don’t I love my corporate job if I get to do the exact same work I choose to do in my spare time for fun?
I’m glad you asked.
My Ideal Day Vs. My Actual Day
I might love my day job if my daily schedule looked like this:
9 A.M. – Arrive. Grab coffee. Put my headphones in, get to work on a project of my own choosing. Enter flow state.
11 AM – Take a break. Go for a short walk. Get some sun.
11:15 AM – Get back to work on the project. Enter flow state.
1 PM – Head home for the day. My creative energy and motivation is sapped.
That would be wonderful.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. My schedule is more like:
9 AM – Arrive. Grab coffee. Put my headphones in, get to work on a project someone delegated to me.
9:15 AM – Get interrupted by coworker.
“Hey man, did you see there are donuts in the break room?”
“Oh cool, thanks for the heads up.”
9:16 AM – Headphones in. Back to work.
9:30 AM – Receive email from boss. Asks about the progress of the report. I email back.
10 AM – Pointless meeting. I shouldn’t even be in it. I scroll through Rockstar Finance on my laptop.
11 AM – Back to work.
11:03 AM – Receive email from coworker. Asks if I have free time to do a code review. I email back.
11:30 AM – Pointless meeting.
12:30 PM – Lunch break.
1:30 PM – Back to work. Respond to more emails asking about updates.
2 PM – Pointless meeting.
2:30 PM – Back to work. I have no motivation. I want to go home. Fill the next 2.5 hours staring at the clock, reading through personal finance articles, pretending to be busy if anyone happens to walk by. Respond to more emails.
5 PM – Leave work.
My actual work day isn’t just filled with interesting work I enjoy doing. It’s wrapped in layers upon layers of bullshit, with interesting work sprinkled in here and there.
I rarely enter a flow state at work because I never have huge chunks of uninterrupted time where I can concentrate deeply.
This is why I can’t imagine enjoying any corporate job. No matter how much I like the work itself, the environment and daily schedule is just too awful.
The deadlines. The meetings. The performance reviews. The soul-sucking atmosphere of cubicle-land. It all sucks the fun out of work.
Corporate Culture Can Turn Interesting Work Into a Nightmare
I could imagine that blogging could even be turned into a miserable job if it resembled corporate culture.
Zach, how’s that new visual coming? What’s your estimated completion time? We gotta get it out the door by this afternoon.
Hey, can we tweak the colors on that graph? I think we can do better.
Zach, we have three status update meetings today. You need to join even though none of the other projects pertain to what you’re working on.
I need you in the office working on the blog eight hours per day, even if you can only do deep work for four hours per day.
Send me a summary of everything you accomplished this week by noon. Need it for a meeting with the higher-ups.
The sole reason blogging is so much fun is because the style of work is the complete opposite of my day job. I don’t have to attend meetings, provide status updates on my work, respond to emails, sit in a specific location for a set number of hours each day, or work on projects I find boring.
I have complete freedom to create whatever I want on any given day and I get to enter a deep flow state. To me, this is enjoyable work.
Get In, Get Out
I can’t imagine enjoying any corporate job, no matter how enjoyable the work itself is, which is why I don’t plan on sticking around in cubicle-land any longer than I have to.
I want to make as much money as fast as possible and get the hell out. I don’t need enough to be financially independent, just enough to be financially comfortable with transitioning to work I enjoy, which hopefully means working for myself.
The concept of “work” doesn’t scare me. I can easily sit in a coffee shop for five hours on a Saturday morning and work on something I find interesting.
I enjoy the grind, just not in a corporate environment.
That’s why I don’t plan on hanging out in Corporate America for the long-term. I plan on making the most of my time here, using my salary to build a solid financial foundation, then happily moving on.
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