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Take the day off. You deserve it.

(This isn’t specifically GD-related, but it’s a slow posting week…and Friday is around the corner. ;o)

I’m sure most of us can relate to having a design gig at some point where frequent requests of ‘we need this presentation out tomorrow AM—we’re working late!’ or ‘do you mind coming in Saturday to get the web site up?’ were par for the course.

While you can rent Office Space again to laugh at our overworked selves, you may instead want to consider taking tomorrow off as part of Take Back Your Time day. The time between October 24 and the end of the year marks the extra amount of time Americans spend at work compared to our Western European friends.

The Take Back Your Time Day movement was started on April 6, 2003—the 70th anniversary of a bill that the US Senate overwhelmingly passed that would have made a 30 hour work week the norm.

An interesting snippet from the above article:

In 1965, a U.S. Senate subcommittee predicted a 22-hour work week by 1985, 14 hours by 2000.

*sigh*

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ENTRY DETAILS
ARCHIVE ID 1636 FILED UNDER Miscellaneous
PUBLISHED ON Oct.23.2003 BY darrel
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
jonsel’s comment is:

by 1985, 14 hours by 2000.

Were the robots supposed to take over?

On Oct.23.2003 at 12:26 PM
JLee’s comment is:

What a load of crap!

That website is ridiculous. No one is forcing anyone to work 40 hours a week. If someone is whining about overtime, a 40 hour work week, etc. then get a different job or start your own business. Don't whine to me about the Europeans or that robots should be doing your job while you do something else.

On Oct.23.2003 at 01:05 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Thank you for your insightful, well thought out, and eloquently delivered thoughts, JLee.

On Oct.23.2003 at 01:40 PM
jesse’s comment is:

No one is forcing anyone to work 40 hours a week.

No, nobody is forcing anyone to work 40 hours a week. However, in my experience I've found it's nearly impossible to make a living working less than 40 hours a week, no matter how you do it.

I recently quit a second part-time job because the extra cash wasn't worth the additional stress put on my wife and I. We both hold full-time jobs. We feel as though we're always rushed, with little to no time to relax in the evenings, and our weekends are filled with errands and chores. Half of our vacation time is spent each year on individual days off so that we can get things done that need to be handled during the work week.

I'm not about to start my own business at this point, although I've considered it, because those I've spoken to who have gone that route find they work even more hours than when they were employees in the private sector.

I do feel as though I deserve more time for myself. I'm all about an extra 10 hours a week to myself.

On Oct.23.2003 at 01:51 PM
jesse’s comment is:

Thank you for your insightful, well thought out, and eloquently delivered thoughts, JLee.

Yep, thanks Darrel, I almost said that myself.

On Oct.23.2003 at 01:53 PM
d’s comment is:

an interesting article in BusinessWeek points out that France's 35 hour workweek is a disaster for its national economy. France noq works roughly 24% less on average than workers in the US - who top the chart at 1,815 hours in 2002.

While it hasn't cost a huge amount in numbers - the equivalent of about 12bn dollars annually, the negative connotations of a country more interested in four day weekends has hurt it's national and gobal position. (perhaps not the only drving force though...)

In France's healthcare system - doctors work about 20 per cent less than they did before under this new workweek, which made them incapable of responding to the August heatwave that killed 14,000 people in France.

So while we might be well rested, in the French case we might both be poorer and possibly dead...

On Oct.23.2003 at 02:02 PM
d’s comment is:

France noq should be France now - sorry.

On Oct.23.2003 at 02:03 PM
Brent’s comment is:

because those I've spoken to who have gone that route find they work even more hours than when they were employees in the private sector.

I know a few people who work at a startup agency and they don't work less than 60 hours a week. When businesses are new they have to do a lot more to impress - this does not involve a short work week. Once again this is a case of "grass is always greener." Most of us (I'm assuming) wouldn't use the extra time productively anyway. If your job is good why wouldn't you want to invest in it a little?

On Oct.23.2003 at 02:06 PM
jesse’s comment is:

Most of us (I'm assuming) wouldn't use the extra time productively anyway.

Sure, everyone uses their free time in different ways, sometimes productively, sometimes not. But you've got to be careful there, because one person's definition of 'productive' may be different from another's.

For example, I have tons of ideas I'd like to work on in my spare time, from building shelves in the garage to spending time painting in my studio. Taking drives with my wife. Reading. Relaxing. Are all of these things productive? To me they are.

On Oct.23.2003 at 02:21 PM
Brent’s comment is:

jesse-

I totally agree, those things are productive and necessary in my opinion (they keep me sane). I meant that more from a design sense. I've many projects that lay around unfinished because I'm too busy doing those other things, they're more relaxing.

On Oct.23.2003 at 02:29 PM
jesse’s comment is:

Brent,

Yeah, I end up doing that, too, as hard as I try not to — for the same reason, though, as what you said about non-work projects: it helps keep me sane.

I've been working on minor revisions to the same technical drawings for months now. They're past deadline now (not my fault!) but even so, if a small job comes in that's easy and maybe a little fun, I jump on it and set the drawings aside for a couple of hours.

On Oct.23.2003 at 02:42 PM
Brent’s comment is:

my problem lately with side jobs is that they've all been really boring. (backend web work, photo retouching-i'm such a whore!) so the chance to blow it off for anything always wins.

On Oct.23.2003 at 02:55 PM
Bram’s comment is:

This week's Time has a piece on that, leaning a little more toward the effect it has on families.

Good timing from me, as I was thinking that maybe us Washingtonians were just being whiners [Washington Post, basic demographic information required]. Though this piece does raise some interesting points — ones I know I see in this area [and I'm not saying it's exclusive] — about the prestige associated with being busy.

Like the way people say someone has "way too much time on their hands" when seeing a frivolous Web site or some such thing. I know I've stopped doing that. Or if I do, I hope it's with envy and not derision.

On Oct.23.2003 at 03:27 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

d:

I'm not an economist. In fact, I (I regrettably) dropped out of economics in college. That said, I can't say our economy is necessarily doing that great these days either.

I've talked to a lot of Europeans, and they complain about the same things we do. That said, they always seem shocked when I mention things like '2 weeks standard vacation' and '6 weeks maternity'. There's something very off-balance with the American lifestyle. As Bram mentions, it is a twisted sense of prestige we get out of 'being busy'. I've worked in agencies where you could tell the senior staff thrived on this false sense of urgent 'business'. It's all they really had, actually.

JLee:

You are correct in that no one is showing up at your doorstep with a baseball bat forcing you into the office 40 hours a week, but for many, many people there is a real, powerful, economic reality that forces you into the 40 hour job. A big part of that is health benefits. You want your family covered? You have no choice but to work 40 hours. And that same pressure is a real hurdle for a lot of people who want to start their own business.

A lot of the world is jealous of America. We have an amazing amount of material wealth. But when I begin to talk about the things we lack (health care, child care, vacations, etc.) with someone from Europe, I think they begin to see that we simply have different priorities in this country.

I really, really, really want a 40" plasma TV. But I'd gladly take an extra week's worth of vacation instead. ;o)

I have been fortunate in that most of the jobs I've had have addressed the 40 hour issue to some extent. My first agency job offered comp-time. It wasn't overtime, but anything over 40 hours was redeemable for vaction time down the road. Smaller firms I've worked at adopted the 'take time off when you want' policy. I'm now a government worker. Back to the 2-weeks/year grind. But in 7 years, I get an extra week. So I got that going for me. ;o)

On Oct.23.2003 at 03:47 PM
brook’s comment is:

well for starters, european economies are becoming nearly as productive as the united states. This has not always been the case, as europe is catching up fast without working any more. I do not buy any of that newsweek article. Study after study proves that more time off and more reasonable hours equals more productive individuals. And anyway...do you really have nothing outside of work? Do you want to spend 75% of your waking hours there? Well I'd rather spend my time with friends and family, bettering myself through education, making art, etc.

PS. Here are some downloadable posters on Take Back Your Time Day from my alum!

On Oct.23.2003 at 04:03 PM
d’s comment is:

darrel -

There's something very off-balance with the American lifestyle. As Bram mentions, it is a twisted sense of prestige we get out of 'being busy'.

Yes, I think there's a universal confusion between being busy and having purpose. However - being English, I find that the common complaint is simply having to work as most Europeans enjoy up to 5 weeks holiday a year. In a small company I started there we had 25 days paid holiday not including the rolling holidays (bank holidays - of which there are quite a few I think). Additionally, though it does somewhat hamper business - many actual Europeans (as opposed to English) take the month of August off.

I think it is disgusting (yes - that bad) that a US firm would ask of an associate as much as they do, and then not be flexible about the time needed to be a human being or someone outside of their work.

I personally feel that if I am going to spend almost every waking day working - then I had better enjoy it and be doing it with people I enjoy being with. Unfortunately there are not many 'happy mediums' in designing a national workday plan that can both accomodate the growth and success the US has experienced in the past, with the lifestyle ballance of say the Italians...

On Oct.23.2003 at 04:18 PM
d’s comment is:

well for starters, european economies are becoming nearly as productive as the united states

I'm sorry to disagree - but I'm afraid I haven't seen any figures that support this. For instance Germany has just had to reduce it's growth forcast for this year and the next. But I don't think that has anything to do with people working less.

The US is seeing a small jobless recovery.

On the whole a lot of Europe didn't suffer as badly as the US did in the dot com fall-out but they didn't really see the extreme highs of the bubble either.

On Oct.23.2003 at 04:31 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Hey...nice link, Brook...way to pull the thread back into the realm of graphic design! ;o)

though it does somewhat hamper business - many actual Europeans (as opposed to English) take the month of August off.

Though the same thing happens here. Business still progressed, but I'm dead bored at work come August namely because half of the senior staff is on vacation too. At least in Europe they admit that nothing will be done in August, so why bother coming in? ;o)

Unfortunately there are not many 'happy mediums' in designing a national workday plan that can both accomodate the growth and success the US has experienced in the past, with the lifestyle ballance of say the Italians...

The problem with that statement is that it assumes that our 'growth and success' is directly tied into the fact that we work 40 hour work weeks. That may be true, but I'd like to see a real study has correlated the two before I agree. I've heard/read more than once that people can be as productive in 6 hours as they can in 8. I know that I'm pretty worthless come 3 pm or so. ;o)

On Oct.23.2003 at 04:40 PM
d’s comment is:

That may be true, but I'd like to see a real study has correlated the two before I agree.

No problem - perhaps in another discussion. Sorry for getting sidetracked.

for those of us lucky enough to have a choice in what we do for a living - is there not a rise in productivity when we're doing what we want to do and with those we want to do it with...

I had a client once who only worked till midday, she ran a theatre and simply claimed she worked extremely hard within those four hours so that she could spend the rest of the afternoon with her daughter.

On Oct.23.2003 at 04:59 PM
JLee’s comment is:

Darrel -

...A big part of that is health benefits. You want your family covered? You have no choice but to work 40 hours

I think what you're getting at here is that in order to get health insurance you have to rely on someone else. Simply not true. Who pays for your car insurance? Life insurance? Homeowner's/rental insurance? You do. So what why is health insurance someone else's responsibility an not your own? Health insurance has turned into a given when it was originally instituted as a benefit to increase worker rentention and take care of a companies own workers. When you start your own business, or work for a small business, you pay for your own insurance. So let's not infer you can only get insurance from an employer. You can buy your own.

...a real, powerful, economic reality that forces you into the 40 hour job

No. You're not forced to do anything in this country. You get what you put into it. If a certain lifestyle is important to you, you work to support it. Working too much to support a current lifestyle? Then downsize.

Don't buy that car/house/computer or have kids and then complain that you don't make enough or don't have enough time to enjoy it. Take personal responsibility for yourself instead. You're not entitled to anything in this country except equal protection under the law and the protection of your freedoms.

I'm not disagreeing that 40 hours/week is the standard or that some people work way too much. All I'm saying is take responsibilty for yourselves. Take time off if you need to. Find a more flexible job if you need to. But don't whine to the rest of us that you need more vacation. Take care of it yourself.

On Oct.23.2003 at 05:02 PM
darrel’s comment is:

Jlee:

Of course you can get your own health insurance. It ain't cheap to fully cover a family, though. Hence the reality that some people can't afford it unless they're employer pitches in.

And nobody is whining. If it weren't for worker's reform at the turn of the century, we'd all still be working 70 hour weeks. Don't assume that all this 40 hour work-week/2-week vacation stuff is purely voluntary in this country. ;o)

On Oct.23.2003 at 09:09 PM
Garrick Van Buren’s comment is:

Running your own business is the only security now and in The Future - because it puts you in control of you're own destiny. Today, even if you're an employee - you're employer has their (not your) best interests in mind. And frankly benefits (i.e. health insurance) aren't among them - cause they need to minimize costs. Extend that to feast and famine (er, sorry, cyclical) markets - and organizations are paying people when work doesn't exist. Hmmmm. Why have a full-time, 40-hour/week 50-week/year staff when you make the bulk of your profits in the 2 weeks of the Mn State Fair?

Frankly, it's time we all took responsibility for ourselves - rather then expecting some Employer to work in our best interests. Unfortunately, our political infrastructure (taxes, health care, etc) isn't there yet. Until it catchs up, we're stuck in Limbo.

On Oct.23.2003 at 10:12 PM
Tim’s comment is:

Brent said, "I know a few people who work at a startup agency and they don't work less than 60 hours a week. When businesses are new they have to do a lot more to impress - this does not involve a short work week."

Designers are known to work 10 to 18 hour days at the studios like RBMM here in Dallas. Each designer is expected to do whatever it takes to get the job done and done to the highest standard, which involves working till 3 or 4 in the morning at least twice a month and working till 7 every night. These firms that have been around for twenty years in Dallas continue to work late nights to create award-winning projects. Should it come to no surprise that the visual communications industry has the second highest rate of substance abuse, rivaled only by medicine? (Quoted from link at the end of my post.)

Within my firm, each designer signs an agreement form in which you agree to be a team player. If a project needs to get done, you're expected to stay late and work on the weekend in order to get it done on time. Darrel's clients might request a presentation tomorrow, but I'm all too familiar with the presentation that was needed yesterday. (Fact: one of our projects for a national book publisher is two years behind schedule.)

The How Design Salary Survey recognizes over 54% of the nation's designers work more than 40 hours per week on their design projects. How many hours per week do you spend on graphic design?

Senior Designer, this job is so time consuming! When did you ever find time for a relationship?

On Oct.24.2003 at 12:07 AM
Brent’s comment is:

I took today off.

tee hee.

On Oct.24.2003 at 09:38 AM
jesse’s comment is:

I also took today off!

Now I'll be behind on Monday.

*sigh*

On Oct.24.2003 at 09:48 AM
Lea’s comment is:

The 40+ hour workweek is our reality. However, the best thing is to find ways to maximize our time, and learn to take decent breaks inbetween even if you have to schedule it in like a meeting. Prioritize.

That's easier said than done, granted. But we also have to think about -- when we get into the office in the morning, do you jump in straight to work? I don't (unless someone is harping behind me for an ASAP project). Most of the time, I sit down, relax, check email, talk to co-workers... That takes all of 10 minutes of non-work at work. Then of course repeat that process after a couple of hours, then take a 45 min - 1hr lunch. Work, break, repeat. ;) And throughout, taking mini breaks is no crime. Jesus, I'm typing this at work. :P

It'd be nice to have only 30 hr workweek, but since that ain't happening in North America, we have to make do.

On Oct.24.2003 at 09:51 AM
Garrick Van Buren’s comment is:

The Overworked American by Juliet Schor

On Oct.27.2003 at 01:04 PM
Garrick Van Buren’s comment is:

whups - bad url above. Try this one. Overworked American

On Oct.27.2003 at 01:07 PM