Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Live to Work – Work to Live

We probably all know people that just love to work. To them, an eighty-hour work week is a joy. After a fifteen-hour work day, they rush home so they can open their laptop and do more work. They could have retired years ago, but then what would they do? Watch other people work? The purpose of life is to work, dang it.

While I admire their industriousness, I’ve always thought it’s the other way around—the purpose of work is to provide you with a decent life. And how can you have a life if you’re always working?

To make our life work with our work life, we humans are always coming up with creative ways to schedule things. In the U.S., the standard forty-hour work week traditionally includes eight-hour work days for five days, or five-eights. Some have altered that to four-tens. Then there are four-nines with a half-day on Friday. Or eight-nines plus one-eight with every other Friday off. Or three-tens plus two-fives . . . (brain explodes here.)

I once tried to convince my boss to let me work two-twenties but he didn’t go for that. I’ve also tried to introduce the “diminishing work” schedule—one ten-hour day, then a nine-hour day, then an eight, a seven, and a six. That’s forty hours but you sleep one hour more and work one hour less each day. Maybe a better name is the “emerging life” schedule. Seemed pretty nice to me, but that wasn’t approved either.

Of course, people that don’t work in an office—like police officers, firefighters, train drivers, and others—probably laugh at all these attempts to change our schedules. They often work several days straight with little sleep. And the workaholics that put in eighty-hour work weeks scoff at the idea of working any less than that.

This weekend, the U.S. will switch from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time by moving our clocks back one hour. Everyone gets an extra hour of sleep for one night. It’s wonderful. For a few days next week, people will actually arrive at work on time—and cheerful.

I think we should do this once a month. On the first Sunday of each month, let’s all set our clocks back one hour. For the first week of every month, we’ll all be much more refreshed and relaxed. After twelve months, we’ll all be going to work at 8pm, so at that point, we can just switch the AM and PM around and start over. We’d all get additional sleep and more importantly, perhaps we’d enjoy life more. Sound like a plan?

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