Tag Archives: happiness

Easter ruminations and the four-day work week

Time. So elusive. So precious. We can measure time, but we can’t touch it. We can see it indirectly in the change from day to night, or the accumulation of wrinkles in the corner of one’s eyes.

For most of us, there never seems to be enough time in an afternoon, a day, a weekend or even a holiday to do everything we set our mind to. Time has become so precious it seems like a waste to spend it watching fictional characters on a screen live their lives, rather than live your own.

And yet, time is rarely mentioned in relation to our present state of well being, our social connections and our relationship with ourselves. Even less so in relation to the state our economies find themselves in.

Where am I going with this? Well, Easter is the only public holiday that goes over a full four days, giving everyone a little bit of extra time to reconnect with hobbies, nature and loved ones.

The happiness in people coming up to this long weekend is real – four days of freedom from tedious work tasks, annoying phone calls and emails, irritating co-workers and bosses. Apart from mainly self-inflicted stresses of present-giving and preparing lavish feasts this time can be spent doing what you choose.

That is all great and it makes me so happy to see people feel relaxed for a change. It leads to my question this Easter:

Do you think that people would be appreciative of a shorter work week?

Sure, some ‘motivation/inspiration-poor’ people will piss the extra time away watching TV, but others will take up new hobbies or get more into existing ones, spend quality time with families, reach creative heights, discover new potentials and repair frayed nerves.

Obviously there are people who love their jobs (or think they do because it makes them feel better), but is it not healthy to leave room for some ‘anti-work’ anyway?

Sweden is testing out the six-hour workday and I seem to hear people of all nationalities crying out for that or the four-day work week.

Is not being time-poor nearly as bad as being financially poor, in that it limits the time available to pursue your interests, those things that make you a happy and balanced creature?

Does the full-time work week do justice to our complex human nature that hungers for variety, learning, social interactions, creativity and the unfolding of ones’ potentials?

All the machines and inventions of the last hundred or so years were supposed to make our lives easier, free us from tedious tasks. Well, they did get the housewife out of the house, only to then put her into the workforce along with her husband. All this somehow equates to more of us working longer hours to pay for the luxuries of washing machines, dry cleaning and microwaves.

Computers have made us more productive and efficient, with the result that one person now does the job of many and ends up having a nervous breakdown.

But who defines what productivity is anyway? I am being productive sitting here, typing my Easter ruminations to inspire thoughts in you, the reader. You are being productive by tapping into what is going on in the blogging world. But neither of us is getting paid financially, rather we get paid in feelings of accomplishment, connectedness, inspiration, motivation or whatever.

How is that not productive?

Compare that to the paper and email shuffling that goes on in companies or the kindergarten displays of politicians during question time!

But wait, productivity is related to production output and “the more productive the economy is, the higher our living standards will be” says the Australian Productivity Commission. Wow, what a punch in the face that website is, I almost wish I had not looked (but it make for an entertaining future blog post about higher living standards in relation to happiness). It goes with the whole problem of unpaid house- and child-rearing work which women have traditionally been responsible for and which has gone largely ignored to this day. Except that today it is hard to ignore the amount of children screaming for more attention from their poor, time-poor parents.

Head shaking.

On top of a full-on full-time work week that leaves little to the imagination we have home lives that need work and add other pressures, such as children, partners, bills, mortgages/rents and finding food that won’t slow-poison us.

We are all due a bit of slack, so much is obvious to me.

So, imagine having an extra 52 days every year to do stuff that you like/love/choose to do! 😀

Would that not very likely result in more happiness and well being which seems quite elusive to us in our current ‘productivity for production’s sake’ rut?

Being time poor appears to be no accident, it seems we (the ‘consumers’) are kept on a tight leash that dictates how we live our lives to an extremely large degree.

The time is now to take some control back of that leash and start to claim what we and the tireless generations before us have been working for: more spare time to be human.