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Is The 40-Hour Work Week Too Long?

Submitted by on May 28, 2012 – 9:17 am8 Comments

How consumed are you with what you do for a living? Many of us seem to claim that ‘who we are and what we do are two different things,’ but do we practice this theory?

In a new paper published by the New Economics Foundation, the argument is that we work way too much. That argument is supported greatly by statistics, which show that the average American works 46 hours a week, and that a plurality of 38% of all Americans work over 50 hours a week.

Given the time frame that most of us generally work (8 or 9 until 5 or 6), the best hours of the day are gone by the time we’re done. There isn’t much left to do but eat and sleep. This can’t be life, right?

The NEF paper argues that working 21 hours a week instead of 40 would solve a great deal of societal problems, such as unemployment, over-consumption, and sustainability.

The idea is that working less would cause us to earn less, thus reeling back carbon emissions, depletion of fossil fuels and allowing more people to have jobs than the current numbers show. Of course, there would have to be a cultural shift from “more, more, more” to “less is more” for this to work, and I’m a bit skeptical about that.

On the other hand, there are quite a few upsides that a shorter work week would produce: more leisure time, time with family, lower stress levels, better sleep patterns, and thus better overall health and possibly an improved quality of life.

However, it is probably best to structure work around achievement instead of putting it on an hourly system at all, and in many cases this has already worked, as the video below suggests.

What do you think? Can a time management overhaul improve quality of life in America? Even if it could, is such an overhaul likely to take place any time soon?

Source: NewEconomics.org

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