Last November and December, I experienced some shortened work weeks thanks to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Both holidays were preceded by shortened three-day work weeks, so I had to be extremely focused, making efficient use of every minute of every work day. I cut way back on the amount of time I would otherwise spend watching lame YouTube videos involving practical jokes where some unsuspecting dude gets kicked in the family jewels (I can never get enough of that highbrow humor).
This time, with only three days to get everything done, I choose not to waste my time sending around the couple dozen recycled humor emails I usually pass along each day, making fun of people from the South or one of those lame parodies on the Twelve Days of Christmas. Nope, no point wasting my co-workers’ time this week. There’d be plenty of time to waste their time by sending these around next week instead. Let’s stay focused, Tim.
And that Elf Bowling video game that arrived in my email inbox every year about the holiday time? Well, this year I wasted almost no time – ten minutes tops – playing that mindlessly addictive video game. (But please permit me to brag just a little – I scored a 212 – my best score ever in five years of playing this game on company time.) This week was going to be different. I had five days of work to do in just three. I found that I got so much done in these shortened work weeks that it got me to thinking (uh oh….): Imagine how much more efficient workers would all be if we all had a three-day work week.
There are many companies – and even a few cities (El Paso, TX, Melbourne, FL) and at least one state (Utah – always on the cutting edge of new trends) that are currently experimenting with a four-day work week. Instead of five 8-hour days, their employees work four 10-hour days, and they really get a lot of things done in these ten hour days…well, in the first 8 hours anyway. Polls of workers who have shifted to a four-day work schedule indicate that 85% prefer it to the previous five-day schedule and an overwhelming 99% prefer it to the seven-day 80-hour work week with no time off for Christmas.
The advantages of a four-day work week are many:
- Reduced commuting time and reduced energy consumption by eliminating one day of commuting travel per week
- Less pollution in the environment from fewer days of commuting workers
- Improved energy efficiencies from reduced use of electricity and heating in offices and factories which are closed one more day each week
- You can get drunk on Thursday night and don’t have to make up transparent excuses for not showing up to work on Friday, like “I can’t make it into work today, boss because my four-year old Nate is sick with the measles again… Yeah, I know it’s the 7th time this year. He has a really low immune system…”
If you ask me, it’s pretty obvious that working four longer days is much more efficient than five shorter days. But why stop there? If four 10-hour days is more efficient than five 8-hour days, then why not three 13.33 hour days? Better still, why not two 20-hour days? It works for medical doctors completing their residency and for college sophomores cramming for their Economics final so why not for the rest of us?
Now I know what you’re thinking. Why not a one-day work week? You silly, there just aren’t enough hours – unless you’re working part-time. Then yeah, that could work just fine. Good suggestion.
And you might push back and protest “What about sleep deprivation? Do you want your surgeon working on you if they have already worked 18 hours?” or “What if the bus driver carrying your child to school was so tired from working a 20 hour day that he fell asleep at the wheel?” These are valid points, which is why I would only apply the two-day work week to any job I might conceivably be interested in. And I have absolutely no interest in becoming a surgeon or a school bus driver – nor for that matter, since we’re on the subject, a farmer, coal miner, used car salesperson or dental hygienist. And I have to say, I am not really very much inclined to do any job that involves taking blood or stool samples, defusing IED’s or the routine use of tasers. But I digress.
So think about it. Unless you’re an open heart surgeon / part-time school bus driver, your work week could begin say on Monday at 6am and be completely over by sometime in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. No more thinking about work stuff for another five days. How awesome is that! Think how rested and refreshed you will be when you return to work the following Monday morning after five days off where you were able to stay up till 3am playing Halo 3 or catching up on every episode of Seasons 1, 2, and 3 of LOST (I always wanted to watch that show).
Your entire family will be delighted that you’re around so much more, with the possible exception of your wife and perhaps your kids. But your Chocolate Lab, Tootles, will be thrilled. Your cat Freckles won’t particularly care one way or another. Sorry.
For you men out there, there is one small possible downside to having all this extra “free time” on your hands with a two-day work week. Your wife may conclude that you have plenty of free time to step up to the plate more…. starting with taking Jake to the orthodontist, then driving Jessica to and from soccer practice. While you’re at it, could you be sure to get the groceries, take the car in – the transmission is running a little rough… Oh, and you might as well stop by the post office, the dry cleaners, the bank, the hardware store… And we could use 187 items I put on the shopping list for Costco (the preceding product placement was paid for by Costco).
…. Oh and don’t forget to find a baby sitter for Saturday night and help Megan with her report on the history of the spoon – it’s due tomorrow. And could you figure out why the water in the bathroom sink is suddenly green? And what is that clanking sound is in the clothes dryer? Take a look at that. Oh, it sure would be great if you could finally get around to raking the leaves like you said you would last fall. They won’t just rake themselves, ya’ know.
Yes, with all this extra time on your hands, you will have lots more time to take over countless chores and errands that you somehow were able to avoid back when you were slaving away five days a week at the office.….. On second thought, I think the five-day work week is fine just the way it is. A two-day work week? That has to be the stupidest idea I ever heard.
I’ve got to get back to work. I’ve got a feeling today is the day I’ll break my record score of 212 in elf bowling. Wish me luck.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2010 – 2011