Carry a box; it’s good for your depression

I’ve never known someone to do a full 10-hour day of moving and be depressed. You have a very clear, tangible sense of what you’ve accomplished. You took one apartment full of stuff and emptied it. And then you filled a new one and helped people start a new chapter in their life.

Matt Wixon in the Washington Post

One of the frustrations I’ve discovered working office jobs the past eight years is that I often don’t have a real sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. I may have had my hands in 10 different projects in one day at the office, but when the clock strikes 5pm I often can’t tell you exactly what kind of progress was made — which might actually be in part because I was working on so many different things according to recent research (multi-tasking is actually bad for your brain). I wasn’t expecting this coming out of college, planning to work as a graphic designer.

Of course, this isn’t to say that the work done in an office isn’t necessary, or that there is never a sense of accomplishment working behind a desk opposed to in a wood shop or on a farm. There are times in an office where you’re working on one project for an extended period of time (within the same day) and can better articulate what you got done on this particular Monday. And I actually love planning meetings where we expand on an organization’s vision. However, paperwork and phone calls just aren’t measurable in the obvious way that, say, painting a house is. When I work with my hands, progress is obvious. “We primed that house today, all six rooms.”

Hat Tip to WordLily for the Washington Post story.


About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

One Response to Carry a box; it’s good for your depression

  1. Julie says:

    I’ve been reflecting on similar things, as I’ve undertaken nine weeks of office work. The lack of palpable progress was what made project management so hard. And I really, really shouldn’t be asked to sit still for hours at a time.

    Luckily, I finished a couple of discrete tasks today. Sometimes, even breaking a big project into smaller bits doesn’t help provide a sense of accomplishment. Luckily, I’m helping bail out an overwhelmed coworker, so it’s as though I’m actually doing something meaningful.

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