40 Hours. Every Week?
Hey, quick question:
How the hell do people work 40 hours in a week?
As I write this, I’ve just come from two entire weeks in Columbus Ohio, where I led a data viz workshop every single day.
I left my rental apartment at 8am and got back at 4:30pm. This is an 8.5 hour day, with a whole one-hour lunch in the middle.
So that’s 42.5 hours per week at their office. (You know I was bringing multiberry muffins to the security guard by the end of my second week.)
About 10 days into this experience, I was texting friends with the same question I’m asking you:
How the hell do people do this?
In order to be out the door by 8am, I was getting up at 6.
Taking 20 minutes to stretch, foregoing my usual yoga routine and meditation time, but just doing the basic maintenance all my freakin physical therapists tell me I have to do before my body parts fall off.
Making coffee and brekkie and packing lunch. Taking the supplements and drinking the green powder. Cleaning up the kitchen.
Putting on all the makeup and doing all the hair (aka getting on the Hot Girl Hamster Wheel, as it’s called on The Money with Katie Show).
And hustling down High St.
By the time I got back to the apartment at 4:30pm, I was famished, so I dove into dinner prep.
Running to the grocery store.
Spending perhaps an hour over the whole day connecting with friends and family.
Hitting up taekwondo twice a week.
Laundering and vacuuming.
Showering and grooming.
Sleeping 8 hours.
Totally unable to keep up with all the other emails in my inbox.
Entirely forgetting that I’m supposed to be researching a new car because the mechanic said mine could catch on fire.
Definitely not following up with the contractor on the bathroom repairs.
Barely noticing all these other Life Things that are just on hold for two weeks while I tread water, until I get back home to my way-less-than-40-hour schedule.
And that’s without having to raise small children or care for elders or even take a dog for a walk.
Come to think of it, the only time of my life when I was able to put in 40 hour weeks was when I was a young adult with no family or responsibilities.
Beyond that time, I think we all have to sacrifice something to keep afloat in a 40-hour work week world. We skimp on sleep.
We grab convenience foods and jeopardize our health because there’s literally no time to eat fresh.
We don’t have hobbies.
We skip exercise.
We don’t nurture our friendships.
We get sick a lot.
Something gives, because something’s gotta give.
I don’t see a way to live a healthy life and also work 40 hours a week. The math aint mathin.
Unless, of course, you have a partner who can manage your household and get your groceries and cook your meals and nurture your social relations. Unless, that is, you have a traditional wife.
Which were exactly the circumstances under which we got to a 40-hour work week. Our elders unionized to get working conditions DOWN to 40 hours. And that was a plausible scenario when people primarily lived in hetero households (even as they did whatever they wanted elsewhere) in which the husband worked and the wife did every fucking other thing under the sun.
In these modern times, a 40-hour work week simply isn’t sustainable.
We don’t need more articles teaching us about batch cooking.
We don’t need another podcast extoling the virtues of a treadmill desk.
Enough with the efficiency hacks showing us how to shoehorn even more around and within and in addition to the 40-hour work week.
We actually need some of that time back.
At Evergreen Data, a typical work week is 26-30 hours and that’s plenty.
40 hours is an outdated construct meant for a different society than the one we live in today.
Reason #4,325 why you need to start your own business. You set your schedule.
Then you go live your life.