Fast Company

Dissembling the Schedule

FC Now reader Charless Buffett emailed an intriguing question early this morning:

I have had a few discussions with collegues & friends recently about how various social systems (education, family, mass media, etc) "program" us for earning wages or salaries and living from paycheck-to-paycheck.

The question I pose to them is: Instead of working for a week or a month & then get our remuneration, what if we worked for 2, 3, 6 months & earned enough income to last the rest of the year, next year, 3 years?

What sort of person would you be if you were able to do this? What sort of skills, education, personality, background would you have? What would activities would you be engaged in to earn the income? What sort of family life & lifestyle would you have?

In the past, this idea has been raised when comparing the amount of vacation time in America to that in other countries, but it's an interesting concept. What would it mean for our careers -- and our local and global economies productivity-wise -- were we to take on such a work schedule? Chuck Salter suggests that steps in such a direction could increase productivity. What think you?

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4 Comments

  • Karl

    What is lost is effectiveness. Balance and regeneration promotes effectiveness. A highly effective 25 hour work week nets me more than 60 hour weeks in years past. Ask the employer what she uses to calculate effectiveness of her people and you will find a factor far less than 1.0. Instead of doing the same thing harder and faster, raise the quality factor of you and your people.

  • Todd

    My wife and I are big believers in alternating work with play. After working for seven years, we took a year off to travel in 2000. We plan to do the same again in 2005 and take another year off. You can manage your career around these breaks. These breaks have given us an opportunity to understand what the next steps are for us in our careers and our personal lives.

    I can't recommend strongly enough deciding to take time off. This goal has to be personal, occupational, and financial for it to be successful.

  • Whitney

    The truth is 90% of companies want an employee to work 50-80 hours per week, and don't like it when the employee takes time off. So in order to be considered valuable in the employers eyes and compete with other employees in keeping one's job, people become work aholics even if it is not who they are, and they really long for a balance.

    Technology was supposed to shorten our work week and give us more leisure time to be with family and friends. Yet in the 1950's and 1960's there was a job that actually had hours of 9-5. In fact, only one person in the household needed to work and the family still could afford to buy a house, and go on summer vacations, etc.

    Now we have expanded working hours. Nine to five has turned into around the clock working especially since now we have cell phones and laptops that are a ball and chain around the employees ankles.

    Tell the company you want balance in your life, and shut your cell phone during dinner time, and the company will just look for someone who does not want any balance and is willing to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the company will opt for that person, because they are a dime a dozen. Those wall street broker type mentalities that are in all fields have no boundaries and make it difficult for other employees to have boundaries and have the employer respect those boundaries.