Of course, we live in such a production-driven society that the average American worker has the balance skewed towards too much hard work and not enough time to take it easy. You’re working so hard to *make* a living, that you have too little time to actually *live*.
Furthermore, taking it easy, taking time off to recuperate, is seen as such a detrimental thing in this work hard culture. You’re not a diligent employee if you take too many days off, and not to mention your vacation days are already extremely limited anyway.
Unless you’re breaking your back and constantly putting yourself “on the grind”, then you’re nothing but a lazy bum, as seen in the eyes of modern society. God forbid if you give yourself any sort of leisure time and aren’t always working towards some goal.
I mean, you’re even expected to be “on call” during your vacation nowadays, where your boss will demand that you still answer his e-mails and make phone calls with clients “in case there’s something important”. The time you should spend relaxing is instead spent guess what? Still freaking working.
And if you don’t do some of your workload during vacation? Well then that work load is just gonna keep piling up while you’re gone, and you’ll have to play “catch up” by putting in extra effort and extra hours to make up for all that time spent doing something unproductive. What were you thinking? Going to the beach like that and trying not to think about work? Sheesh, get your act together! What? You thought there’s more meaning to your existence than to shell out as much work as possible? Clearly, you’re just a loser with no good work ethic.
That’s the sort of propaganda we’re force fed in corporate America. We’re all brainwashed to believe that our entire worth as a human being is entirely based on our ability to “git r dun” and “make moves”. And apparently if you have any sort of distaste for work, then you’re just a waste of space, because clearly you’re only as good of a person as the work you produce. Not who you are, not how you feel, just raw numbers and data regarding the amount of productivity (and profits) you bring for the company you work for. Somehow productivity is directly tied to how much you matter in this crazy mixed up success-driven culture in which we live in.
But really that’s just all indoctrination. We’re trained to be obedient corporate slaves who value productivity over our own physical health, emotional wellbeing and mental sanity. We’re told caring about ourselves is selfish. We’re told taking a rest is lazy. All these negative messages about laziness and selfishness are designed to turn you into a compliant employee, who doesn’t question authority and just accepts a bigger and bigger workload with a smaller and smaller amount of buying power each year.
“Shut up and buck up” is what we’re told. Success is measured by the amount of things you can acquire and things can be acquired by working hard for them, or so it is believed. Again, straight up propaganda here. Of course, true success comes from within, and is not anything materialistic. No amount of fame or wealth can ever make you happy.
But you’re two things in the eyes of your corporate owners: a worker and a consumer. You work to produce a product that the company can sell and then you spend that money you earn working on material “status” (assuming you can even afford to eat and put a roof over your head in the first place). You don’t build wealth. You build a pile of materialistic *things* to own, because that’s what you’re lead to believe makes you successful
You want *things* to make you look good - a fancy watch, a nice sports car, a big house. It’s a system designed to make you work your goddamn ass off for money and then spend that money on pointless little doodads that provide truly no benefit other than the arbitrary sort of “prestige” it comes with.
They want to build you to be controllable, to make you think that you have to make sacrifices for your greater corporate overlords. Time spent actually enjoying yourself for once, or heaven forbid, lying on the couch doing nothing, is a complete and utter waste, we’re trained to believe.
So work, work, work. That’s all we do. That’s all we have time for. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to both complete the work that’s expected of us and also take a breather in order clear your mind of any work-related stress.
We’re undergoing constant stress to do more, be more, make more. We don’t have time to take a break and say “alright that’s enough for now.” We’re always running from one errand to another, completing one project after the next, performing one task following another. It’s a nonstop bombardment of work.
There’s no time to fully rejuvenate and by the time you go back to work after the weekend, or even a week-long vacation for that matter, you feel just as drained as you did *before* taking said break. Fact of the matter is, we don’t get enough Leisure, the big “L” in L.A.Z.Y.
Man, being lazy is alright -- at least in balance.
Certainly, not achieving *anything* isn’t something to be too proud of, but being lazy, to a certain extent, definitely has its merit. It’s okay to relax and call it quits for a bit. You don’t need to be constantly working. In fact, you do actually *need* to be lazy once in a while. You need to take a break from the sweaty 9 to 5 pace. Take it slow. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to always be “on the grind” or whatever. You can be “on the couch” instead. It’s good. It’s healthy.
The amount of work we perform along with other responsibilities like taking care of children, completing household chores, etc. leaves very little room to just, like chill, ya know. Sit around. Be at rest.
Let’s be real here, too. The “weekend” barely counts as a break. You spend it catching up on sleep you missed during the workweek, grocery shopping, catching up with friends, and attending to other household chores (or maybe even tasks for your job) that you otherwise missed out on Monday thru Friday. The weekend is a poor excuse for a “break”. It’s more like a strip tease for the the type of leisure we deserve to have.
Plus, all this labor really starts to take a toll on our mental stability. The sheer amount of stress becomes quite a burden if day by day, week by week, we’re constantly dredging through such a massive workload.
I mean suicide and depression rates are at all time high. No doubt, the work structure here in America plays a role into that statistic. I mean, I’m not saying that being overworked and underpaid is the sole reason people are depressed and committing suicide.
But to ignore there’s at least some sort of correlation between the huge workload/ lack of fair compensation for said workload and depression would be ignorant.
We, as a society, seem to be caring more about the profits of billionaires than the wellbeing of the common people.
Having this supposed “work life balance” seems like something you can only manage to accomplish in retirement, doesn’t it? Like you can only have time for actual leisure once you’re out of the workforce. Otherwise, the day-today demands of your typical job in this country overtake any sort of ability to have any recreational time on your own.
Sure, you get those few hours at home after your long 8 hour shift. But put simply, that’s not enough time to relax. On top of that, “8 hours” is a lie, absolute bullshit, if you factor in commute time and unpaid lunch. You’re really doing things for your job for 9, 10, or even more hours, depending on how long it take you to travel to and form your work place; the call of duty goes beyond just when you’re “clocked in”.
It’s been the premise since the 1800s “8 hours for work, 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for what you will” was the slogan of the labor movement over a decade ago.
Yet we don’t really even have that 8 hours “for what we will”.
You have to drive to work and you don’t get paid for your commute time, yet alone the cost of gas and vehicle maintenance it takes to own a car and drive there to your job. Commuting is straight up time theft. And that’s certainly not something you choose to do “at your will”. You have to travel to get to work.
And let’s say your commute time is a half hour. Well, we have to double that, because it takes one half hour to get there (to work) and one half hour to get back home. So that’s a full hour lost to work travel; we’re down to 7 hours “as you will”, and those are some light numbers. Some commutes, especially if you’re headed out to the city, can take several hours.
And yeah, you get a lunch break, but that lunch break on “company time”. You’re not paid to eat or drink. You have to “clock out” during your lunch, so you aren’t earning any wages for that hour.
Furthermore, you don’t even have the freedom to eat or drink anything you want. God forbid you sip a glass of wine at work on your lunch break or other alcoholic beverage. So that hour is not “what you will” either. It’s whatever the company you work for finds acceptable.
So now we’re down to just 6 hours, assuming you have a rather short commute, maybe even far less than that already.
And we haven’t even gotten into chores you have to do. You gotta cook dinner, clean up, pack lunch for the morning, the list goes on and on. And that’s only if you’re single, living alone, without kids.
If you have kids, well now you gotta make sure they do their homework, help them if they need it, and put them to bed. In addition to your day job, you become a part time cleaner, chef, tutor, and nanny as a parent.
9 to 5 was built on the premise that one person in the household (the wife at the time) would take care of the kids and household chores. Now, we have both parents working FULL time jobs and splitting the responsibility of childcare and chores.
You used to be able to support an ENTIRE FAMILY with just a single income, but now two people, with two incomes, can be working full goddamn time and still struggle to pay bills together.
But I won’t go too deep into detail over how the wages are shit nowadays and we deserve to be paid more for our labor, as that is something we did cover recently. But today we’re talking about how not only are the wages unfair but so is the time required of us. So I want to point out that we’re spending so much time at work, both on the job site and at home, that there isn’t really any free time, or time in which you will.
Now admittedly, things have certainly improved since the birth of corporate America. I mean, there was a time where 12-14 hours a day work shift was a common practice, not to mention literal children were forced into labor, so undeniably, we have improved since then.
In 1940, the 40 hour workweek became the American standard, just 14 years later after Henry Ford implemented such a practice for his car company.
It was a great step towards achieving a work/life balance collectively as a society. But things have changed since then.
For one, women have entered the workforce, which means no one has the specific role for household and childcare duties any more. In the past, when the 40 hour work week standard was inducted, a woman would finish taking care of the house and the children, then she would have free time. Likewise, the husband would finish working his job, then he would have free time.
Now both parents are working an actual job and when they’re finished? Well then come home to do more duties, because neither of them has the specific duty to take care of the children or household and it must be split between the two.
The other thing that 1940 didn’t account for is technology. We have so much more technology than we did nearly a century ago. We have AI, which is only growing increasingly smarter and more effective. Pretty much all the labor can and will be automated in the future and a lot of it already is.
We cut hours during the Industrial Revolution because the whole idea was that machines can take away the burden of labor from man. Well, using the same principle, and given the fact that these “machines” have superbly upgraded over the years, it seems silly to follow rules of an archaic past.
We haven’t evolved, in regards to work structure and schedule for literally over 80 years! That’s insane. That’s absolutely insane.
The typical 8 hour workday is an outdated practice. We’ve moved beyond that. It’s no longer necessary to work that hard for that long.
Looking back at history though, Henry Ford decided to cut hours down to 8 from 14 because he found that his workers were MORE productive, working shorter hour shifts.
Crazy theory, huh? When people work less hours, they put in more effort and increase productivity Imagine that! It’s almost like having Leisure (again the big “L” in L.A.Z.Y.) gives a person the motivation, energy, and tools they need to be super productive.
Fact of the matter is, we’re running on E, our energy supply, physically, mentally, and emotionally is completely empty. Yet were forcing ourselves anyway to schlep to work 9 to 5 because that’s what we have to do in order to pay bills and barely afford to put scraps of food on the table.
Your car can’t run without fuel. Your phone can’t run without a battery charge. And you can’t run without energy.
We don’t act like our phone is being lazy by needing to plug into the charger at night after hours of playing mobile games, watching videos of TikTok, and, text messaging friends. We understand that the phone needs enough battery to perform and do those things.
But you understand that once it’s plugged in and charged again, it’ll be ready to do all the tasks you want it to. Employers nowadays can’t seem to apply that same theory to their employees.
They’re under the false notion that human beings have an unlimited supply of energy to do things and can work nonstop, but we don’t and we can’t.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule that the employees must work a 40 hour week.
Californian ecommerce business Tower Paddle Boards and German digital consultancy Rheingans, say they experienced a similar phenomenon to henry Ford back eight decades ago when they moved to compressed-hour models, with just a short five hour work day.
What’s more is that research suggests that the maximum amount of time most people can concentrate on something is that five hours.
Unless you’re half cyborg or superhero or something, you’re not fully focused (yet alone 100% productive) for 100% of the time you’re at work. You’re probably distracted scrolling through your Facebook or watching cat videos. How many times have you pulled up a spreadsheet when your boss walks by, while having Reddit open in another tab? How much time at work are you actually working? Think about. I can guarantee you it’s significantly less than those 8 hours you’re required to be there on site.
The realization that eight hours is way too much time to spend at a job has further increased after this whole quarantine situation. During quarantine, people were forced and mandated to work from their homes. I know as well as you know that there’s no way in hell people were working that full eight hours. They would take naps, play video games, and ya know, actually give themselves the much needed leisure.
We need to value Leisure a lot more than it's valued in society today. We have technology that can allow us to be lazier, far more than we had back in the day of the Industrial Revolution. It’s time to Evolve.
I mean, we’re only *truly* productive for about half of the full 8 hour shift anyway. The rest of the time it’s like we’re being held hostage, by a bastard of a boss I might add too.
We don’t just need more pay. We also need less hours.
There’s more to being human than just working.
Besides, it’s a lot easier to get things done at work or at home when you actually have the energy to do it, rather than relying on coffee just to keep your body moving. You’re already dead on the inside and your corpse is just being animated by the amount of caffeine in your system.
Seriously, it’s time we take time to actually BE ALIVE and stop this dreaded 9 to 5 grind, which again turns out to be much longer than just those aforementioned hours, accounting for all the commuting and multitude of tasks we’re responsible for as an adult.
Give yourself time to relax. Your mind, your heart, and your body will thank you. Go be lazy, dude and “do what you will.”
Take it easy,