“Work fascinates me; I could sit and watch it all day.”
This is one of my favourite quotations. Jerome K. Jerome wrote three very funny books: Three Men in a Boat, Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow and Three Men on the Bummel. This is from the middle one, I believe, although I do not have a copy to hand.
It all makes work for the working man to do.
This well known saying was made famous in a song by Flanders and Swann about how each workman did something wrong, leading to another being called out.
A new broom sweeps clean.
This is true in the literal sense, bristles become worn and no longer make contact. A new manager usually makes changes and does away with outworn methods and machines.
Making a mountain out of a molehill
means making something into a bigger job than it needs to be.
can mean staying longer at work, usually for higher rates of pay or just working very hard.
Making hard work of that
is the opposite of making that look easy.
It’s all in a day’s work
is a reply to someone thanking them for doing something.
Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief
is a list of possible occupations. When a child has a dish of stewed prunes, for example, the stones are lined up around the rim and the list recited to find out what will become of them. Of course, it is only a game!
Having too many irons in the fire
means trying to do too much. In the days before electricity, smoothing irons were heated in the open fire. One could be used while the next was heating up.
A jack of all trades and master of none
is not a compliment. In the days of master tradesmen (a trade being the work for which an apprenticeship was served) the assistant was often known as a jack. He usually was an apprentice. If he changed his mind and left one master to learn a different trade, this might be a literal description. It is used about anyone, who does lots of different things without taking the time to learn how to do anything really well.
That’s not much help…
… could be a response to an inadequate explanation or someone’s practical efforts.
Law of diminishing returns.
There is a point in any job, where spending more time on it will not improve it in a noticeable way. A return is what you get back for investing time or money. A literary example of this principle is in a story by JRR Tolkien in his book “Tree and Leaf”. The story is called “Leaf by Niggle”.
The devil finds work for idle hands to do.
This proverb warns people that if they are not doing something useful, they may be getting into mischief.
That’ll keep you out of mischief!
Here’s something for you to do! Alternatively it could be a reaction to the news that you have taken on a time-consuming project.
The Bible contains plenty of advice, stories and principles for work. Perhaps the best known is from the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20 verse 8 (NIV) “Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.”