Do Errands Count as Work?

3391518213_7809836f7e_mHave you ever spent a few hours running errands?  It's amazing how store returns, dry cleaning runs and grocery shopping can occupy so much time!  Many of us are hardly aware of this phenomenon until something like Christmas break rolls around or a summer "stay-cation" where you take time off but putter around the house for a few days.

Before you know it, you're all tuckered out from doing none other than a boat load of errands.

So do errands constitute what we mean by work?  We're talking work here as something that matters, as something that makes a difference.  Here is what Pope John Paul II said in his 1981 letter Laborem Exrcens:

Work is one of the characteristics that distinguish man from the rest of creatures, whose activity for sustaining their lives cannot be called work. Only man is capable of work, and only man works, at the same time by work occupying his existence on earth. Thus work bears a particular mark of man and of humanity, the mark of a person operating within a community of persons. And this mark decides its interior characteristics; in a sense it constitutes its very nature.

Let me sum this up: only people do work and work is any activity that matters on some level of existence. Sadly then, errands, while necessary, rarely constitute work in the strictest sense.

Here is a suggestion with this context in mind- rather than demote errands to a sublevel of work (i.e. here we go again with those blasted errands!), try to find a way to sanctify the time you do spend while running errands.

  1. This can be done by way of praying before, after or even during an errand.

  2. You can also make it a point to interact with those you come across in the midst of errands.

  3. Finally, be a good steward of time as you run your errands by batching similar tasks.

Photo by Jule67
At WorkMike StPierre