Thursday, May 1, 2008

Against Work

[Photo by laffy4k]

Today I spent eleven hours at work. I think that may be the longest I've ever spent in the office, with the possible exception of that time I accidentally got drunk with my boss and ended up sleeping on the floor underneath my desk. (Don't ask.)

My parents both worked while I was growing up. My mother always worked part time, usually arranged so that she was home when my brother and I came back from school. My dad started out working part time as well, spending his off hours doing hippie-dad things like baking bread. By the time I started kindergarten, Dad had gotten a full-time job.

Dad was always home for dinner to spend time with us and ask about our days. But after dinner, he often went back to work. I don't remember how often or how late he stayed. I do know 10:00 wasn't uncommon and that he worked after midnight more than once when I was small. I do know he was always working on our home computer and that as time went on I saw more of his tense back than his face. I do know that when he takes a "day off" these days, that can mean going to the office from 5-8 a.m. and working on his home network for several hours after my mom goes to sleep at ten.

He was a good dad. He is a good dad. And I don't want to be like him. I want to be as good at relaxing as I am at work.

In honor of Friday, here are a few ways to make sure you don't become a workaholic:

-Go home on time.

-Take all the vacation time you're given.

-Take personal time if it's offered. Take sick time when you're sick. Even for colds.

-Don't take work home.

-Take time off between jobs.

-Travel. The more remote and further from Internet connections, the better.

Happy Friday!


Anonymous said...

Rachel, love this post! I think you should consider expanding this post into an essay for My Turn in Newsweek. All Americans need to hear your ideas for not turning into a workaholic... I have followed these ideas my entire working life and have trouble understanding those who have tons of vacation and co-workers who come to work sick. Not to mention spreading their germs around to the rest of us!

Anonymous said...

Great points. I've had more than a couple co-workers who have actively hated their jobs, but still given up long hours during the day, weekends, and sacrificed unused vacation time because they "had to be around" for their bosses.

And I have trouble even understanding the concept of taking work home. Somebody who does that will just be distracted from their work and stressed by the things going on at home, and they're not really giving any quality time to their family while they're working.

Sam said...

I especially liked the tip on taking time off between jobs. Which I've never done and regret it. Next time I'm taking at least two weeks off between jobs.