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What is work?

 
master steward
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I just made a post in another thread that has got me wondering.   In my high school physics class I was told that work is when energy  is exerted and something is moved.   As an adult, I decided that if I enjoyed doing something, it was fun.  If I didn’t enjoy it, it was work.  

What is your definition of work?
 
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I'd say it's something you'd rather not be doing but feel like you have to.

Whittling a spoon as a hobby may not be work.  Doing it for money to pay the bills is likely "work".  
Chores are rarely fun enough to take them out of the "work" category.
Making maple syrup where you eat most and sell a bit is often still "work" to me.  It's at the fringe of paying back the labor so I don't often sell any.
If you love your job so much that you'd do it for free, maybe it isn't work...  But would you really do it for free or would you do something else?  If you need the money and love that way of making money, I still think it's work.
 
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Many years ago (decades actually) a college professor observed in one of his classes that people have much less leisure time now, than they did in former times. Now we have so many things to pay attention to, that there is little time left to just sit and reflect, or talk, or sing and make music. Now we have to spend so much time everyday watching TV, or looking at screens, or making money to afford wall to wall carpeting or air conditioning. We must shop constantly because of some advertisement inspired "need". There are light switches to pay for, and latest fashions you must have, and tropical fruits in the wintertime. And games we must buy in case we end up with a moment not accounted for.

In farm life, you spend some time each day caring for animals, maybe some time baking bread, and maybe you might paint the barn every couple years. But a great deal of the time, "work" is more seasonal. Firewood stacked in Fall. Gardens planted in Spring. Hay making in Summer. And maybe catching up on your reading in Winter. There's of course more to do than that. But (at least for me) every day I wake up breathing is a good day, and every night I go to sleep as soon as I lay down is also a good day. Everything in between is just details, --none of which is work. Just fun (for me).

So for me, "What is Work"? For me work is 9 to 5. So I can pay for stuff I don't need. Work is doing anything I don't want to do. Work is having no time to sit, or not having time to just leisurely look at something I just created. Work is having to do something for someone else, that I don't find happiness doing (which is very different than doing lots of things for other people, that I find joy in doing). For me, work is what it seems most people these days are willingly "forced" to do. While for many folks like me, we almost never work. We just spend our days playing and getting lots of things done.
 
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Work is what pays the bills. I'm an auto mechanic-I like it, I guess. I'm good at it, I've won awards and such for it. It pays well, I have good benefits. I don't mind going every day.

But it's not real life. It's just this thing I do in order to have money to live my real life. My kids barely know what I do for a living. They know I work on cars, but we don't talk about it. If anyone asks what I did at work today, my standard answer is "fixed stuff".  I don't give the place a second thought when I walk out the door.

I perform a whole lot of physical labor at home (including fixing my own vehicles), but that stuff isn't "work", its "life".

That's my view, anyway.
 
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what a slippery thing to define! work as far as i'm concerned is something that needs to be done that another person won't/can't do, for whatever reason.

I might get paid for it, or I might do it for free. I might be the only person who knows how to or wants to do it, or I might even pay to do it if I want to learn it or if it's not a part of my regular reality and looks fun (I'm thinking of when I paid money to ride a bicycle to get to a place that a bus would have taken me for free when I was in Europe a few months ago, or a class to learn how to make pasta).

Often the job I do to pay my bills is really enjoyable. I wouldn't do it full time for free, just for fun, but I'd probably still be doing it to a certain extent; it gives me a big outlet for creativity and for intellectual exploration.
And some of my non-paid and even leisure activity (garden, I'm looking at you here....) is definitely work that someone else could be doing and probably normal people would pay someone else to do: digging beds, shredding corn stalks, hanging laundry, dog training, chopping onions. I choose to do it, but that doesn't mean it's not work.
 
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As a simpleton, I'd say it's anything I need to do to survive.  Some people have it much easier than others from what I've seen.
 
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To me anything that keeps a person busy other than `playing` or having fun is work.

A person doesn`t necessarily earn any money doing work.

A good example is housework.  Some folks earn money doing housekeeping though most folks don't get paid for cleaning their own house.
 
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John F Dean wrote: In my high school physics class I was told that work is when energy  is exerted and something is moved.  



I don't know, sometimes I feel like I'm doing an awful lot of work, but don't see hardly any movement...except maybe my frustration meter.
 
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Anything that requires effort, whether physical or emotional, is work, whether I get paid or not.  If I'm very much "in the mood" for something it may not be work, but if I'm not really in the mood but it needs done then it becomes work.  Work isn't inherrantly unpleasant, it just takes effort.  In that sense I'm different than most who answered so far, I think Teresa's answer was most similar to mine.  I wonder if women and men often perceive work differently?
 
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