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The Almighty Buck

Take Back Your Time! 467

pycnanthemum writes "Today is national Take Back Your Time Day. has a story about it, it's a Seattle-based movement to get overworked Americans to value the non-material parts of their lives. When I read the article I thought of a lot of techies I know."
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Take Back Your Time!

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  • by DarkBlackFox ( 643814 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @02:46PM (#7302804)
    "You took 4 minutes of my life and I want them baaaaaack!! ....oh I'd only waste them anyway."
  • My time is my time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RickL ( 64901 ) * on Friday October 24, 2003 @02:46PM (#7302806) Journal
    I avoid being needed at 3:00AM. I've been there before. I've had the VPN software installed on my own computer so I could fix someone else's bugs in the middle of the night.

    I have a Palm and a cell phone, but they are mine. Work doesn't have the cell number, nor will they. I no longer have the VPN setup on my computer.

    I've refused to work at all hours and on my own time, and it has prevented me from advancing to a position that requires it. That is a feature, not a bug. I know in these days it is hard to be picky, and if I was faced with the prospect of carrying a pager or being unemployed, I'd suck it up, but I would start looking elsewhere.

    I work with way too many people who see working as a programmer as a gateway into management. They don't understand why I don't want to "advance" (advance by their definition). It completely baffles them that I'd rather be happy than make more money.

    Life is tradeoffs. If the coolest opportunity came round, but it required me to be on call now and then, I'd take it. Likewise, I'd rather not make the extra few thousand a year, but have my time be mine.
    • by wawannem ( 591061 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @03:03PM (#7302991) Homepage
      I think a lot of this is relative. Before I had a wife and kids, I didn't care what time I had to deal with a problem. I only cared when a company didn't reward me for the extra effort.

      I worked for a small IT department in a large foster care organization. One that in-took kids 24 hours a day across the country. I didn't mind coming in if the systems went down at 3 AM, mostly because they paid me well.

      My next job was at a University. Same scenario, lots of systems, few IT people. After I was denied a raise at my first annual review, I told my boss not to expect any more late hours fixing problems. After a few problems that just had to wait until 8AM the next day, I think they realized why I felt cheated. I had a VP threaten to fire me on the phone for not coming in late one night, it was great, the threat was rescinded when I asked how the press would feel about their 'family-oriented' university giving someone the can because he didn't feel like coming into work at 11PM.

      I agree with the parent poster, Life is tradeoffs you have to take the good with the bad.
      • by cayenne8 ( 626475 )
        Yup, kinda goes with my motto. "I NEVER work for free..."

        I value my time off...and it has to be paid for if I'm to give it up to some company...

        It's also another reason I don't think I'd ever, ever, ever go back to working salary..especially in IT. The idea that they want you to work mandatory extra hours? I mean, the way I see it, since there is no longer such a thing as job security, nor loyalty of a company to the worker, you might as well make the bigger bucks. It used to be a trade off between job st

        • I agree with what you are saying, although, I look for a good salary position with good benefits. Right now I make a decent salary, but what is important is that I have *great* insurance. With two kids and a wife, it is so much more important. A few years back, I just saw insurance as another deduction that washed right down the drain. Nowadays, without vision and dental, I would be broke paying for braces, glasses, cavities, contacts, etc., etc. Other than insurance, a lot of the smaller, lesser noticed be
  • by phraktyl ( 92649 ) * <(wyatt) (at) (> on Friday October 24, 2003 @02:48PM (#7302831) Homepage Journal
    And I'll take it back when my boss and the schedule say I can!
  • At this point we have the technology and know-how to reduce work to a quarter or less, with likely more production. Some serious social change is needed to make this happen--but it will.
    • by Bendebecker ( 633126 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @03:48PM (#7303506) Journal
      I wouldn't count on it. A french philopsher in the mid 1800's computed that the amount of work we actually need to do is only 2-3 hours a day and yet we still work our asses off. The problem is progress and the overly rich. All our life styles require x amount of work per day to sustain. However, the problem is that some people's life styles are so outrageous that there are simply not enough hours in the day for that person to possibly sustain there life style themsleves. Guess who makes up the difference. You see Aquilera acting like a whore and living like a king, remmeber, omeone has to do the necessary work to produce stuff so that she can do that. In our society, we call it money. We buy a cd. We pay way more than what that cd is actually worth. Assuming the time they each spend wroking to create that cd is equal to the time spent of alll the people that purchase that cd, and that the peopel who created that cd is equal to the number of people who purchase it, then the amount you would have to pay woudl be equal to the amount that you worked (aka your total income for that time.) In other words, the amount they work should equal the amount you work and (in a perfect soiciety) the cd they created would be worth the amount of work your equivalent group did. So wahts' wrong? It isn't. The amount you spend to purchase that product is far more valuable than the actual work and effort put into that product. Quite simply, your paying them more than the work tehy are doing for society is worth. Hence, they are using taht extra wealth to consume more of societies overall wealth than they are contributing to it. Someone has to make the difference up. [The actual argument would be a lot more complex tahn this of course but you get the general gist of what I am getting at.] In addition to this, there is the mater of progress. In order to stay as we are, we could work only a mere fraction as much as we do now. However, if we want to progress, we have to put in a little more time beyond what is required to sustain us. Now look at progress over the last 1000 years. As the amount of work we do increases so does the speed of progress (though not as much as it could and should be increasing due to the amount of work we put in.) By working more we also create more wealth and hence raise our standard of living (ie. progress.)

      The question we have to ask ourselves is when is enough. When do we have enough material goods that progress can slow down to a more comfortable level? The problem is we don't. That's is what they thought in the fifties: taht certainly by now we would have all we could ever want and so we could move to sustaining ourselves instead of trying to aquire more and go farther. And quite simply our greed is unquenchable. No matter how much we have, we want more. 100 years ago they thought we would be able to settle for the heaven we live in (and many of us do live in a fantasy land - especially the gated community types) but the fact is we are starting to reach the phyical limits of what can be achieved. The world can't support 6 billion Americans. There isn't enough resources on earth. The question is can we even sustain the level of living at we are at now? By using sweatshops and taking advantage of the third world, are we actually as an entire scoiety taking mroe than we contribute (even though we contribute a great deal - and if the answer is yea than there is the matter of europe who has the same standard of living and works even less which would mean they are contributing less but taking the same amount as we are.)
      We need to stop looking at the world wealth and the work done through symbols like money an start looking at the actual wealth. We need to start rewarding ppl for the work they actually do. Aquilera does not deserve the life style she has. Probably neither do any of us. We have to stop being greedy. we cannt maintain a ridiculous standard of living. If we try the number of poor will increase, whether you see it or not (when every family in india goes with one less meal it isn't so obvious as
      • How did this get modded +4, Insightful? It's pure flamebait (my bet), or its a pretty awful misunderstanding of economics. People will always go for this shit more when the economy is down, too. Have IBT? Maybe. But I still like to argue.

        I'm a little curious who this "french philosopher" is, but not really. Macroeconomic theory changed drastically in the late 19th century, which ties in to the birth of the field as an actual discipline in itself (instead of merely the province of bored clerks, philos
  • by MacFury ( 659201 ) <> on Friday October 24, 2003 @02:49PM (#7302843) Homepage
    Get Americans to value non-material things? Are you out of your damned mind?

    That's just letting the terrorists win...isn't it?

  • by The Terrorists ( 619137 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @02:50PM (#7302848)
    Quit surfing the web all day at work and at home. You rarely learn anything. In fact, you're rarely even truly entertained!
    • Quit surfing the web all day at work and at home. You rarely learn anything. In fact, you're rarely even truly entertained!

      Whaddaya mean, I don't learn anything? I just learned that I don't learn anything while I'm surfing, while I was surfing. So there!

  • Actually, daylight savings time doesn't end until Sunday, so don't go changing your clocks just yet.


    • That's what I was hoping this article was about - that goddamned, antiquated daylight savings time. Why can't we all just use GMT and be happy for it?
      • Why can't we all just use GMT and be happy for it?

        Because it would be a bit strange when 12 Noon occurs during the middle of the night? (Well, except for those Canadians, I guess they're used to it.)

        I am glad to live in a place where we don't bother with daylight savings. Sure, we're out of step with the rest of the country -- but we don't care much about them anyway.
  • by JusTyler ( 707210 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @02:51PM (#7302865) Homepage
    The dearth of recreational and family time in America is nothing new, although work hours have been increasing decade by decade leading to mini 'revolts' like this. However, who actually took your time away in the first place? You did. If you let yourself be conned into working 80 hour weeks, that was your call.

    "But I won't be able to afford the mortgage on my $500,000 home!" many will cry. A lot of people think it's some sort of given that they must have a large house, 2.4 children, a Lexus and an SUV parked outside. Not so! A lot of people have escaped from the 'rat race' to start farms out in the boonies, backpack around the world, or live as a family out on the ocean waves.

    Living in a 60-80 hour workweek society is your choice, and if you're too blinkered to do something about improving the quality of your life, fine.. but it's YOUR CALL!
    • by indros13 ( 531405 ) * on Friday October 24, 2003 @02:56PM (#7302921) Homepage Journal
      There's a great book on the issue of the American tradeoff of time for disposable income called The Overspent American []. Basically, we spend so much time trying to keep our incomes up, we end up having less and less time to enjoy the things we buy (that we arguably don't need anyway).

    • Exactly. You make your own life, and you're no slave. This idea that people are somehow enslaved to the Evil Corporations are rather ignorant. Some people may like that corporate environment. Others may choose otherwise.

      And calling this half-brained "Take Back Your Time Day" a 'movement' by any measure is just plain inaccurate.
    • For some, however, it's not such a clear cut choice. Some companies require mandatory overtime, with failure to comply resulting in unemployment, which is also pretty rampant these days. Of course the SUVs and Lexus' are a bit over the edge as per quality of life, but even people making minimum wage can be forced into overtime or face a jobless future.
      • Unemployment is an option. Joblessness is an option.

        I went and opened a new account at a brokerage a couple of years ago and they wanted to know who my employer was.

        I was actually rather taken aback by the question. It seemed an odd concept to me.

        Employed? That's what I do with hammers and toilets. No one "employs" me, and I told him so.

        He asked me if I were self employed.

        Does a hammer employ itself? Does a toilet flush itself? (Well, ok, sometimes, if the flapper valve is wonky, but you get my point)
    • by cubicledrone ( 681598 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @03:00PM (#7302952)
      If you let yourself be conned into working 80 hour weeks, that was your call.

      Boss: Come in on the weekend please.

      Employee: Can't. I'm going on a picnic with my family.

      Boss: No, I'm going on a picnic with my family. You're working or you're fired.

      Employee: What time?

      A lot of people think it's some sort of given that they must have a large house, 2.4 children, a Lexus and an SUV parked outside. Not so!

      How about a small house, children and a paid-for car? By the way, it was a given until people got fired every three months. Now they're lucky if they can afford to eat three times a day.
      • Boss: No, I'm going on a picnic with my family. You're working or you're fired.
        Employee: What time?

        perhaps a better response would be:

        Employee: talk to my union rep.

        rolls off the tongue nicely, doesn't it.

      • Boss: No, I'm going on a picnic with my family. You're working or you're fired.

        Employee: What time?

        And right there you've made the choice to give your life over to your boss. You made the choice.

        Frankly, if I had a boss that said that I wouldn't want to work for that hellhole of a company anyway. You can't pay me enough. Go ahead and fire me -- you're even legally allowed to. I'll find someplace else to work where the managers don't treat their employees like dirt and respect them. It'll be a more enjoy
        • And right there you've made the choice to give your life over to your boss. You made the choice.

          Frankly, if I had a boss that said that I wouldn't want to work for that hellhole of a company anyway.

          Rent's due every 30 days. Kids are hungry three times a day. You do the math.

          I'll find someplace else to work where the managers don't treat their employees like dirt and respect them.

          Good for you. I know MCS graduates who can't rent a job.

          But you are not allowed to own me, nor are you allowed to intr
    • A lot of people have escaped from the 'rat race' to start farms out in the boonies, backpack around the world, or live as a family out on the ocean waves.
      And none of them are reading this right now.
    • start farms out in the boonies

      OK, this one I can see. But successful farming takes a LOT of work, even just for subsistence. I don't have any figures to support my assertion, so flame away, but I'd guess it takes more work than the ratrace you gave up.

      backpack around the world

      This is not a career, this is a leisure pursuit. How long can this last? It really depends on how big your cushion of savings is, which ironically enough, depends on how hard you were working up til the point you decided to
  • by feed_those_kitties ( 606289 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @02:51PM (#7302866)
    At my former job I decided to go for a 32-hour workweek. I had simply decided that "my free time is more important than money." Talked it over with then boss, he thought it was a great idea. Took the 20% pay cut, worked Monday - Thursday, had every Friday off.

    Life was great!!

    Then, I get a new boss. Classic 'Type A' personality. Worked 60+ hours a week, claimed it took her 40 hours a week to read her email.

    Long story short, she fired me. Claimed I couldn't do the job that I had been doing for over nine years.

    Former coworkers basically said she couldn't handle the fact that she worked 60+ hours a week, and I worked 32 to 36 hours a week...

    So, try this at your own risk!

    • I feel for you, as I've had those same bosses that, even in technical positions, don't understand the difference between just sitting in your office, pulling a George Costanza, and sitting in your office a few less hours per week because you do good work.

      On the flip side, there are those that claim they are working at home, or work short weeks, that are basically trying their best to just get out of work, and then we have the "no one can work at home" statement by the manager after someone brings attention
    • Worked 60+ hours a week, claimed it took her 40 hours a week to read her email.

      Yeesh... someone needs to learn how to use her Outlook filters.
    • I hate to further the overlitigousness of our country, but thats a situation where you should've gotten a lawyer involved.
    • by DaveAtFraud ( 460127 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @03:13PM (#7303103) Homepage Journal
      Actually, you probably threatened her value system on a number of different levels:

      1) You valued personal time more than the material posessions working longer hours would bring.
      2) You were content with a job that was sufficient to meet your needs instead of climbing the career ladder.
      3) You organized the work you were doing to fit within the time you allocated for it instead of letting the work organize you.

      And you demonstrated that it was possible to do this and be happy (probably happier than she was by doing the opposite). Bummer your old boss left.
    • I couldn't decide who to respond to, so I chose your comment.

      Back in the day (c.2000), when times were good, I contracted. I would do my work, check with my supervisor/client to make sure the work was acceptable and that there wasn't anything else to do, and then I would go home and play tennis or something. What the hell, money was good and, at the time anyway, jobs were plentiful.
      Fast forward a month. The VP of the division catchs me in the hall and asks, "Why aren't you billing 40hours a week?" I expl

  • Value the non-material parts of your life: Have kids. Well...if you're the right kinda person to have kids that is. I've never felt more moved on a genetic, propagation of the family name level, then when I held my boys for the first time. It's really an indescribable feeling. And after that, you learn a LOT of the $hit you thought was important isn't.

  • Not another day! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by worm eater ( 697149 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @02:55PM (#7302909) Homepage
    I don't know about y'all, but I'm so sick of various days and weeks and months being devoted to all this random crap []. In this case it is entirely ironic because everyone's going to be 'taking back their time' rather than doing what they really want to do. Some people actually like working. It's just a bunch of people deciding that they know what you should really be spending your time doing.
  • by dogfart ( 601976 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @02:55PM (#7302910) Homepage Journal
    But my employer called security and had me arrested for theft.

    Seems there was this clause in my contract concerning ownership of my soul...

  • by rosewood ( 99925 ) <rosewood AT chat DOT ru> on Friday October 24, 2003 @02:57PM (#7302937) Homepage Journal
    Someone call me the WAAAAAAAAAAAMBulance please.

    20 Credit hours this semester, fall of my senior year in college.

    I signed up for 1700+ hours for Americorps.

    My fiance and I are planning a Spring 05 wedding.

    I run a small IT consulting company.

    Free time = 0

    Rewards = Huge.

    I have absolutely NO ONE to complain to but myself. If I want more time, I make more time. Same thing for everyone else. No one is making you work the job you are at. If you don't like the terms, renegotiate! If you don't like the job, quit. Not that simple because the cost of living is too high where you live? Move. Don't want to move because you like your nice house and nice cars and all that jazz? THEN KEEP WORKING.

    No one is forced to work the coal mines 60 hours a week...
    • Good for you.

      YOU signed up for ameicorps. YOU take coursework. That's YOUR time. If you worked for someone else, you wouldn't have that time.

      As this becomes the "norm" in society, people are forced more and more to work beyond what they should as it's expected.

      Don't like 60 hours a week? OK, fine, quit, and guess what? EVERYONE ELSE EXPECTS 60 hours a week too.

      Go find a job anywhere in IT (since that's what slashbots know) that doesn't expect you to work 60 hours a week (at least) for 40 hours pay.

    • 20 Credit hours this semester, fall of my senior year in college.

      Figure 3 hours per credit a week for studying etc. 60 hours a week.

      I signed up for 1700+ hours for Americorps.

      4.5 hours a day equals (with Sundays off) 27 hours a week.

      My fiance and I are planning a Spring 05 wedding.

      An hour a day until perhaps 6 months before the big day. Once you get the hall and the guest list and food planned what else is there? So 7 hours a week.

      I run a small IT consulting company.

      Let's say 55 hours a

  • Take your sunglasses off. The "Money is your god" subliminal message won't work if you have them on.
  • Good starts... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Duncan3 ( 10537 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @03:02PM (#7302974) Homepage
    Glad to see this is moving along...

    A while back I got fed up, and got rid of my cellphone. That means alot less stress, even more then you'd expect. First, no more phone to keep track of, no more incoming calls, no more calling people when I don't really need to. I do my calls all at once. Oh and I save a forune by not having long distance on the landline (screened, never answeered) and using a nice 3c/min calling card. Anyone worth talking to can email me. And anyone I like can IM me (whitelist only of course).

    I also tweaked all my OSX Mail filters to be very aggressive, and the mail to only check once every hour. Again, far less interuptions.

    And more and more I'm seeing people I know also burn-out completely on the "time saving technology" and trash it all. And then they start to declutter the rest of their lives too, but that's for another subject...

    Life has improved alot since the real-time email and cellphone days :)
  • by ChuckDivine ( 221595 ) * <> on Friday October 24, 2003 @03:03PM (#7302979) Homepage

    This movement touches on one of my central concerns. People are urged -- even required -- to spend more and more time at work.

    Not only does this take a toll on life outside of work, it exacts a price at work. Exhaustion increases the likelihood of making mistakes. Perhaps more importantly, it also limits our ability to learn newer and better ways of doing things. It also affects our ability to discover new things.

    As far as I can tell, this trend began during the 1970s and accelerated to the present day. What's interesting to me is the fact that the rate of productivity growth -- high in the quarter century after WWII -- dropped precipitously in the 1970s. This rate stayed low until the dot com bubble in the 1990s when productivity apparently soared. Now we're busy restating that productivity burst -- downwards.

    Summing up, exhaustion carries a real price not only for society as a whole, but also possibly for business in particular.

  • Productivity (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sirbone ( 691768 )
    It is unfortunate that the web site complains about how we work more hours than other Western nations but fails to mention that we produce the greatest amount of technological, scientific, etc. innovations of any nation no the planet. Not that working less is bad. Rather, we need to not be delluded into thinking that working less is nothing 100% pure good. The gains of working longer are more subtle. By being more industrious and creating more innovations, we speed up the increase in the standard of living
  • i don't have time to take back my time....

    sheesh.. 12 minutes a day to talk to your wife? I know some guys who would love it if that is all they had to do..

  • There is hope (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rdslater596 ( 472943 )
    I went from a 80 hour work week to a 50 hour work week and from a place I really didn't like to the number one location on my list.

    I used to work for a semi-conductor manufacturer in Devlopement (no hints--but its product was the P4) and they were nice enough to hire me staright outta grad school. Then they were nice enough to expect stupifying hours, no weekends and 24 hours on call. But it paid my internet bills to ......

    Find a job!

    But it took a lot of persistance and didn't happen overnight. I spen
  • I am paid hourly, so if I work from home(I never do) I will bill those hours. My co-workers were offered salary and they took it. They told me, "Rudy, just work hard and one day, you'll be salary like me."....
    Now, I work M-F about 45-50 hours a week. They work nights and weekends. Way more that 50 hours per week. Probably near 70. I hear about them going home and logging into VPN and working from 18:00 till 23:00.
    Oh yea, with my over time, I make more than they do.
    Me, on salary...Oh Hell no!
  • by Pii ( 1955 ) <`jedi' `at' `'> on Friday October 24, 2003 @03:07PM (#7303035) Journal
    Nice job, Boston Globe, and Slashdot...

    Rather than telling us ahead of time, the Boston Globe informs us of this event on the day it is to occur.

    To add insult to injury, Slashdot picks up the story, and runs it at about 3:00pm Eastern time, so that we east coasters have already put in the days work by the time we find out about it.

    With a little advanced warning, maybe some of us would have been able to attend some of these events, or at a minimum, skipped work today on principle.

    I'd like to see a "Slashdot Skip-Day," like back in high school. Watch the world grind to a halt when those of us that keep it running take a day off simultaneously!

    (Actually, if we've all been doing our jobs correctly, everything would work fine in our absence... That's kind of scary too. Back to work I go...)

  • by good-n-nappy ( 412814 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @03:08PM (#7303049) Homepage
    I am just finishing grad school. Some people assumed that I went because I had aspirations of being a professor. The more cynical people suggest that I went to avoid the real world.

    In either case, I just want to say that grad school is a great way to take back your time. In computer science at least, they will basically pay you a reasonable salary to go to grad school (plus great benefits). More importantly for me, grad school has been a lot less work than most jobs. You also get to do interesting stuff rather adding feature bloat to the new widget for the local megacorp. Strangely enough, even though this is easy living, it is also very "prestigious" for some reason.

    Once you are done, you are also eligible for a lot more jobs. I would suggest avoiding tenure-track professor jobs if you are interested in your time. But you can afford to be selective in finding a job since you are qualified for so many more jobs.

    I will say that grad school is not necessarily the best way to get rich. If that is your goal then you may want to choose some other path. Of course, you could lose your money anyway. One nice thing about education is that you can't lose your it (other than through brain injury).

    Also, I'm not saying there isn't hard work involved. But you are basically in control. You mostly set your own hours. And you can find (or at least look for) the work that motivates you.
  • The real problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Psmylie ( 169236 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @03:10PM (#7303069) Homepage
    Type-A management. These people see a group of employees working 40-hour weeks and getting all their work done, and to their overheated little minds, it seems inefficient.
    So they cut staff. If the work is still getting done on time, they cut more. Then, when deadlines start getting missed, they say things along the lines of, "well, the work still needs to be done. We all need to pitch in."

    Then you get employees working 50-60 hour weeks to meet the deadlines. Then the boss gets a huge bonus for cutting costs and making the business line more efficient, and then goes on to "improve" another business line.

    The only solution is to shoot them all (kidding! I'm just kidding! But not by much)
    • Re:The real problem (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hondo77 ( 324058 )
      I was a manager for a while (it was a dot-com so it wasn't like I was a real manager. They hired a VP who offered me a promotion (to Director or some such nonsense) but I'd be expected to work a lot longer because the VP was a workaholic. I turned down the promotion and went back to coding. I kept my life and soon his wife left his.
  • by Anonymous Crowhead ( 577505 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @03:13PM (#7303101) adding this to your /etc/hosts file:
  • about 2:00 AM, Daylight Savings Time ends and I get to take a whole hour back from my cruel corporate masters.

    Of course, my cruel infant masters are still going to wake me up after ten hours of sleep no matter what the clock says.
  • James Gleick (Score:5, Interesting)

    by skookum ( 598945 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @03:18PM (#7303148)
    Has anyone else read the book Faster [] by James Gleick? It's a really interesting study on how, as a group, our idea of time has been modified in recent years. It seems as if the pace of everything has gotten "faster, quicker, more efficient" and yet, at the same time we should be reaping the rewards of all this efficiency with more free time, which obviously hasn't materialized.

    Anyway, the book is really good and I recommend it (in addition to most of Gleick's other stuff.) It explores all the different aspects of how we treat time management in the modern world. For example, take the case of someone buying a complicated PDA or other gadget and then spending a whole lot of time configuring it, wrestling with sync software, entering all their contacts into the device, keeping batteries charged, etc. -- when their old method (probably a little black book or rolodex) took a lot less effort when you sum everything up. And yet, they feel like they're saving time. This is just one type of example that the book tries to delve into, and I'm afraid I haven't done it justice. The book was a very pleasant read and makes you think about a lot of things we do in the "modern age" (whatever that is.)
    • Yeah, I don't find the PDA example very good, just because I entered all my crap in a PalmPilot in 1997 and its been in my hip-pocket ever since (ok, I've upgraded a few times), with only very occassional needs to think about it, providing me todo's and datebook and phonebook whenever I needed it...present in a way that a simple notebook wouldn't be.

      It's been years since I've read that book, but I think a more interesting viewpoint is what happens in terms of effeciency in the workplace. Now, instead of a
  • ". . . it's a Seattle-based movement to get overworked Americans to value the non-material parts of their lives."

    This statement makes it seem that we overwork so that we can have an abundance of material wealth. Sorry, wrong. Maybe I'm alone in this but I work my ass off just to make ends meet.

    Could it be that we are being forced into being work-a-holics due to corporate greed?

    My mother never worked and we never went without. How many could survive well on a single income now? Not many I would think
    • Re:Are we victims? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by M. Silver ( 141590 ) <silver&phoenyx,net> on Friday October 24, 2003 @04:08PM (#7303770) Homepage Journal
      This statement makes it seem that we overwork so that we can have an abundance of material wealth. Sorry, wrong. Maybe I'm alone in this but I work my ass off just to make ends meet.

      I don't think you're alone in it, but I don't think you're the target audience.

      When we decided to have kids (or, as it turned out, "a kid" and stop there) we looked at our lives. My husband and I are both geeks (he's a Unix sysadmin, I an AS/400 sysadmin/developer, both with a side of Perl), both making pretty fair money (for flyover country, anyhow), and we didn't want our kid(s) raised by daycare.

      So we sat down and looked at our budget, and figured out just how much money we were spending just to buy our time back... paying for everything from restaurant meals to lawnmowing. And we realized that if we stopped doing all that, we could cut our household income in half and it wouldn't lower our standard of living.

      And so I quit. Now, it means I have to do a lot of housework and other "manual labor" instead of playing with "big iron" all day. But, you know, I still get to play with Perl and do the *fun* stuff that I want to do (and, obviously, read Slashdot in the middle of the day, just like I always did), and take on the occasional contract job to keep my resume fresh.

      But I'm digressing: it's the folks that *don't* take that road that are dragging you and everybody else along into this work-and-consume cycle... there are kids in my son's playgroup who are playing soccer already. They're getting pushed into organized sports when they turn THREE. It's a nightmare trying to schedule something with parents of older kids... they're rushing from practice to game to tournament, and kids are going to out-of-town and out-of-state tournaments in freakin' ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. Grabbing fast-food in the drive-through, and working overtime at two jobs to pay for the health club membership they don't have time to use, and so forth and so on.

      It's nuts. Maybe we're atypical, but I think we're better off now.
      • Re:Are we victims? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mark Hood ( 1630 )
        I saw a program on Tv once (I know, timewasting again) where they took a couple with two kids and two jobs, and calculated how much 'extra' cash they'd gained by the wife working. Call it X.

        Then they worked out the costs of day care, days off to take the kids to the doctor, the extra petrol for running to & from daycare, the jobs, the other associated costs... Call it Y.

        Imagine the reaction when they revealed to this stressed, harried, 'overworked' couple that X was less than Y. She could quit her job
  • Do as others do (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BigBir3d ( 454486 )
    Work hard, play hard. Americans need to get over being so god damned uptight about everything. We have forgotten how to kick back and have fun. Adults don't have to be stodgy.

    Stress is for work, laughter is for the rest of the time.
  • ...Buy less shit, then you don't have to work as much to pay for your useless shit. How difficult is this? Sell that stupid fucking SUV. Throw out your goddamned cellphones/PDA's/pagers. Turn off the fucking TV and disconnect cable. Move into a reasonably sized house. Don't make an event out of shopping. Jesus, and those are just a few things off the top of my head. Americans seem to think that they are *entitled* to a ridiculously high standard of living. Well, they aren't. But they're gonna keep
  • Ask the millions of unemployed about their opinions on "overworking". I'm sure they'd be glad for ANY work.

    In this economy not too many people can go up to their boss and declare they are going to work less just because they feel like it. Can you afford to do this?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The article didn't point out that this was due to the HUGE number of holidays the Europeans have.

  • Since I'm unemployed ( and have been so since 2001) I can't really get behind it this year.
  • Here's a benefit of doing contract work for the government (at least in some agencies): No overtime. It's not allowed unless approved ahead of time and they have to be REALLY convinced that it's necessary. I haven't worked more than 40 hours in a week in two years. And oddly enough I still get all my work done in a timely manner.
  • My time is not free (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HyperHyper ( 519220 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @03:59PM (#7303661)
    I agree with this notion entirely... I took 4 months off work last year. I gave my last client 4 months notice before I left and they begged me to stay on for another month when it was time for me to leave. I said sure but I would only work 2 days a week.

    During those 4 months I took off, I left chilly Ottawa in December and visited some friends in California for about 3 weeks and spent some time re-evaluating what I wanted out of life. I've been through work burnout a couple of times and I promised myself that I wouldn't let it happen again after I had a relationship fail as a result of it.

    As for working for free, I don't agree with it. You are paid for a 37.5 hour workweek or whatever you sign for when you get hired. Any extra time you do should be rewarded somehow (and not with the promise of keeping your job either) because that is time taken away from your personal life.

    I have some friends at Accenture who are fed the whole "Up or Out" crap speech at their town hall meetings. After putting in 60+ hour work weeks, for months, they were given a speech on how things have been going well but they really needed people to sacrifice their time at home to make the project succeed.

    My friend then told me that several of her teammates were in tears because their family life was already suffering enough and then they were told that they need to sacrifice more (without pay of course). My friend is almost done the project she is working on there and then she is leaving because she doesn't believe in their attitude that family is last on the priority list.

    Some people have noted though that it is your choice to work the 60+ hour work weeks. And someone mentioned that working for a workaholic who doesn't have kids or good friends is tough as well because they expect you to do the same. I agree, I've been there and you are made to feel guilty if you leave at 4:00pm even though you showed up before everyone else (7:00am) I used to get comments about "banker's hours" but I told them that I was at work while they were crawling out of bed.

    Hopefully the article will turn on a couple of lightbulbs in peoples heads and make the world a better place because they will spend some more time with the people they love (and who love and need them in return).

    Have a good weekend folks.


  • Is it worse now? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShaggyBOFH ( 694048 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @04:18PM (#7303871)
    This reminds me of a conversation with a good friend. He thinks that he's just so stomped on by big bussiness. He works and works and just barely makes ends meet. Oh poor Keith. I personally think most of his problems lay in the fact he lives in northern CA! Yes, Keith, it's fucking expensive to live there!! your rent (split between 3 people) is higher than my trailer trash 3 bedroom moble.

    He believe's things are sooo bad today.

    So, I ask this question: Do you really want to go back to a time when everyone worked the farm, 4:30am-till dark, work. bed, repeat. every day for the rest of your life...which usually ended around 45 for men?

    So yes, I work ~50 hrs a week which leaves 118hrs, I sleep 8hrs, leaving 62hrs to play with my son, work on personal projects, etc.

    There's alot of professions in this world...maybe those that are unhappy should consider a new one.


  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Friday October 24, 2003 @05:50PM (#7304707)
    1) Be very agressive about defining EXACTLY what is to be accomplished by working extra hours. That enables people to meet those goals before the hours actually start. I've been able to diffuse a number of "team must work the weekend" events down to a few people coming in for a few hours. Refuse to go to useless meetings if there is a time crunch that is pressuring you to work long hours.

    2) Force peoples hands by being the most "extreme" worker around. If someone wants a meeting at 6:00pm, say "I would love to, but I really have to go do some stuff - I'd be happy to meet at midnight though" (or 5am for you early types). If you are serious and willing to go through with this few will call you on this and usually back off the semi-unreasonable timeframe. A bonus benefit is that if they do decide to go for it, you only loose out on sleep, which you them make up at work to prove a point about how they shouldn't take your time.

    3) Be accomidating during real crises, it gives you more leverage when they want to use your time just for the hell of it. Just one overnighter can be pointed to for a year as an example of why you are not working THIS weekend/evening.
  • by stangbat ( 690193 ) on Friday October 24, 2003 @06:00PM (#7304788)
    The birth of my daughter ten days ago makes me a stay at home dad that occasionally works as a project manager with a local software development firm. My wife is the breadwinner and it made sense for me to be the caregiver.

    So what are the costs of this for me and my family?
    - Or newest car is almost 6 years old and a new one is no where in sight.
    - There is no way we can now afford to move into a bigger house, even though it would be nice.
    - I can't afford a boat, personal watercraft, RV, vactaion overseas or pretty much anywhere for that matter.
    - I don't have some fancy title or job to brag about to others. My business cards would say "Dad".

    I could of course go on. But what I gain is the satisfaction of raising my daughter myself, not some stranger at daycare. I can take her to the doctor when needed, we can go on walks whenever we like, read a book, etc. I don't have the play money I used to and I won't have the "stuff" that that money could buy, but my stress level is SO much lower and I get great satisfaction knowing that I am doing the right thing. I might also add that this situation also makes things much easier on my wife as I can take care of the daily family tasks. She doesn't have to worry about anyting once she gets home from work.

    I've taken back my time and I love it.

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain