9 to 5 Culture

Forty-Hour Workweek? (Part 2)

Also see: Forty-Hour Workweek? (Part 1)

In yesterday’s post, I examined how the amount of time many of us are losing to our jobs is a lot more than we might have guessed. But what about the other side of it? How much time do we have on a typical weeknight when we are not working?

Well, folks, it isn’t much. Let’s get back to our friend Bill from Part 1 again.

After struggling home and collapsing on the couch at around 6:00pm, Bill hurries to make some food. Because he is so exhausted from the day, Bill only has the energy to bigburgernuke half of a leftover $9.49 burger from yesterday’s lunch in the microwave. On this night he de-stresses by watching an hour of TV, snacking on chips, and drinking a bit of beer. At the end of the show, he realizes that he has to call a repair company to fix the shower drain, which has clogged. But, wouldn’t you know it? It’s already 7:15, and these places only work regular business hours. They are closed. Oh well, just something he’ll have to remember to do tomorrow on his lunch “break.”

Bill decides to meet up with a friend to hit the bar. By the time he gets there and his friend arrives, it’s already almost 8:30. He gets about an hour and a half of time with his friend, drinking the pain of the day away, and soon it’s 10. If he wants a good night’s sleep he’s got to get home and get ready for bed. Remember, Bill wakes up at 6:30.

Assuming he gets to sleep at 11:00, he’ll get just over 7 hours of sleep before doing it all again tomorrow. How long was his fun, productive, and energetic evening? From the time he got home to the time he hit the sack, he had 5 hours of “Bill” time. This was just enough time to nuke a burger, drink, meet up with a friend to drink, and somewhere in there discover that he had to set up an appointment for a repair on the house that he couldn’t actually set up until tomorrow while on his lunch break.

You may laugh at this story. You might think, “Bill’s life is a joke. This is an extreme. I don’t just drink every night! I have a life!” But think about it – how much can a person truly accomplish in five hours? A fair amount, perhaps, if you have the energy. But imagine that you have already worked for more than ten hours straight before your five hours of freedom. You aren’t going to be all that energized, are you? And the chances are, on most nights, you are a lot more like Bill than you might think.

Now just imagine if Bill had a wife and kids!

It isn’t just time that this kind of life takes from you. It’s also energy. It takes away your free time by robbing you of your reserves, so that all you really have energy to do is get through the days. Without weekends, I don’t even want to know where we’d be.


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