Monday, May 14, 2007

work less, live more!

I know I've been gone awhile; it's amazing what having a life and some warm weather will do for your time spent online. I have been busy here and also traveled for work and then to see friends, which was wonderful. I'm going to try to get back to blogging, I have a bunch of ideas ruminating....

One thing that came up a lot while I was catching up with people on my trip was jobs. Some of us have recently entered the full-time work world, some of my friends are preparing to do that after they graduate this month.

Basically, I think working a lot of hours sucks in a way that is not recognized or articulated often enough, especially if you are in a middle or upper class position (by salary or by other means) that you have enough resources that you could maybe avoid it. A lot of people have to work more than 40 hours a week to get by, but for the people that don't have to do this to make ends meet, then why do they do it??!?

Some careers require it, at least in some form of training/internship/gatekeeping phase (paralegals before they go to law school, residents who have finished med school but are not yet fully trained doctors) - but recognize that it could be otherwise? Working 40 or 50+ hours a week is taken for granted by a lot of people in the "professional" world. A lot of people talk seriously about wanting to make enough money or more money; less often do I hear people seriously considering working less or challenging the idea of working all the time when planning career choices in the short, but especially the long term. I

I find it's hard for me to fit in working 40 hours a week, commuting, enough sleep, exercise and generally taking care of myself and still have much time left over for a social life or other things I want to do. I feel like I am a little slower than many people at getting everything done, but it still seems like an issue. It's hard for me to imagine having any quality of life while working more and/or having other big responsibilities like a lot of people that work that much have like school or kids on top of all that. That is one reason why I don't at this point see myself wanting kids - your entire life gets taken over! This time issue is also another major reason why I'm considering applying to nursing school instead of medical school - med students and residents sometimes work 80 hour weeks. I can't imagine doing this and being able to take care of myself. Or be happy/sane/have any friends. Which is important to me.

I think part of what has gotten me thinking about this is recognizing the need to take care of myself, and that is not as deceptively easy as it might seem when you are stressed or working a lot or taking a lot of classes. Another part has been the anti-work politics and ideas that surfaced at my school, both in and out of class. This is a broader idea of challenging an industrious work ethic and work being inherently virtuous, but is also linked to the idea of a shorter work week.

The fact that in most other industrialized countries, especially Europe, they have a shorter work week and more vacation time (I only have 2 weeks a year, what is that?!) makes it seem more plausible to me, and not a totally wacky idea that we could work less. There's a "take back your time" campaign that looks interesting, although they are quick state that they are not anti-work.

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