My belief is that society has brainwashed us into believing that the harder we work, the greater our worth or value. So we all work-hard and flog ourselves to exhaustion and/or burn out.
Isn’t there an interesting analogy here to what we are doing to the environment….? We are exploiting our soil and our oceans to produce, produce, and produce some more. We are eating our beautiful sentient animals. We are over-working our precious earth and all it’s living creatures to exhaustion and/or burn out.
There are countless admirable people trying to find sustainable futures for our planet. For me, I believe that part of the solution, which is under-explored, is MORE FREE TIME for human beings.
If we all had more free time, don’t you think we would all be more gentle with ourselves…? More loving.
If we all had more free time, don’t you think we would all be more gentle to our planet…? More loving.
DISCLAIMER: I have worked most of my adult life in a full-time employed job.
I find it so strange now that we work most our waking life in full-time 9 till 5 jobs and we dedicate such a small proportion of that precious waking life to the things that make us feel the deepest form of fulfilment.
We say things like ‘I’m glad it’s Friday’ and there is such a thing as ‘Monday blues’. We get super excited about annual leave and we have short bursts of sheer gloriousness and alignment while we are on holiday.
I want to explore: Why? Why? Why?
Haven’t we got the balance all wrong? Surely we should be doing everything in our power to shift the scales towards MORE FREE TIME and less work…?
When people talk about their work and finances, they very rarely say ‘I’m saving for more free time’.
But if we all aimed to create more FREE TIME for ourselves to just be, to come into the wisdom of the physical body, to notice the beauty all around us, and to remember that we too are nature itself, then wouldn’t we all naturally start caring for our planet more and behaving in ways that were less destructive to the planet…?
There are lots of different ways to create more free time. The main way - in my view - is to work less.
The second main way - in my view - is to watch less/no TV (but that is a topic for another occasion).
If you are working 5 days a week (or more), you are using most of your precious waking life to work. The weekends are often spent doing life admin, food shopping, laundry, recovering etc.
You may love your work, you may not.
But even if you love your work, you may not have enough headspace to notice the subtle beauty of the natural world around you.
You may not have enough time to do your part in honouring and protecting this beautiful planet earth.
You may not have enough time to gift the world and yourself your presence.
You may not have enough time to “fall down into the grass”, “stroll through the fields”, “be idle and blessed” (Mary Oliver).
My view, in short, is that it would be best for the planet as a whole if we all WORKED LESS.
Now you may say - okay great - I would love to work less - but I can’t afford it.
So I wanted to put together some practical tips to help you consider whether you could work less:
💚 Negotiate ‘compressed hours’ with your employer (or yourself if you are self-employed) so that you get to leave work early one day a week in return for the extra hours that you worked (anyway) on the other days.
💚 You could explore working part-time, or plan to work-time in the future.
💚 Use an online salary calculator to figure out how much money you would actually LOSE per month if you worked less. If you work less, you pay far less tax and national insurance, so you might be surprised that your actual take home monthly pay does not change as much as you thought. This is especially important to consider if you are near a tax bracket as sometimes a drop in salary does not equate to any meaningful drop in monthly take home income at all.
💚 Share your job with another human being (this is what I do). We both work three days a week - overlapping on a Wednesday.
💚 Use budget apps like Fudget to work out how much money you need per month. You may be surprised that you don’t need as much as you thought you did. You may then feel less anxious about taking a pay-cut to work less. If you have any extra disposable income each month, you could even set up a direct debit into a saving account called ‘free time fund’ so that you are saving each month to do something that buys you more free time (now or in the future), instead of more ‘things’.
💚 Move your home to a location that is cheaper.
💚 If you are working less and therefore have less monthly income, you could consider whether to stop/reduce jobs you previously out-sourced and do them yourself with your new-found free time (e.g. cleaning your house).
💚 Take time to really understand your average monthly expenditure and figure out if any of it is frivolous or wasteful (e.g. overpaying on your mobile phone or car insurance because you haven’t had time to find a better deal).
💚 Diversify your income stream (e.g. set up a side hustle that you are passionate about) so that you don’t feel trapped by your work. Keeping your skill-set nice and diverse gives you options.
💚 If you have made a decision that means you don’t have much free time at this moment (e.g. to work for a company that pays you well while you have young children), then own that decision, be proud of it, and know that all phases are temporary. Maybe you could start thinking about how to work less WHILST in that job, and/or start thinking about how you could work less at a later stage in your life.
💚 If meetings are a regular part of your working day, schedule them for 25 minutes or 55 minutes long (instead of 30/60 minutes) so you have time between meetings to water the plants or stroke your doggy or do something that makes you feel good.
I realise that we are right smack bang in the middle of a cost of living crisis. But all the more reason to stop, to breathe, and to check in with how you are spending your money and your precious free time.
⛔️!!The answer to the problem is unlikely to be flogging yourself to work harder!!⛔️
Obviously, many of these above options are not available to everyone. But perhaps you could scan the list and see if just one might be feasible for you now or in the future…
“I do not particularly like the word 'work.' Human beings are the only animals who have to work, and I think that is the most ridiculous thing in the world.
Other animals make their livings by living, but people work like crazy, thinking that they have to in order to stay alive. The bigger the job, the greater the challenge, the more wonderful they think it is. It would be good to give up that way of thinking and live an easy, comfortable life with plenty of free time. I think that the way animals live in the tropics, stepping outside in the morning and evening to see if there is something to eat, and taking a long nap in the afternoon, must be a wonderful life.
For human beings, a life of such simplicity would be possible if one worked to produce directly his daily necessities. In such a life, work is not work as people generally think of it, but simply doing what needs to be done.”