Consider going down at work to four days a week.

The writer of this tells this tidbit is based on taxes, not one’s well-being. I know lots of folks who would gladly drop from five four days a week of work – but their bosses won’t let them. It seems the opposite is happening: people are working every day to some degree, thanks to the so-called ‘time saving devices’ of email, cellphones, and the internet.*

I’ve been at my work-station since 2005 and I’ve seen many part-time employees come and go for Medicine is not a part-time job. The patients, calling on Friday for refills and crisis matters, don’t like being told their doctor or nurse works only Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and every other Thursday and the message will have to wait until then. Is my memory right on this one?: itt wasn’t too long ago if you were told your attorney, doctor, therapist, etc. were away for some reason, you had to wait, and while it was tedious, we did OK. It was a tradition in Psychiatry to take the entire month of August off, and patients had to muddle-through somehow until Labor Day. Now, the paging service starts calling me in alarm if I don’t respond to their text to call, sometimes calling me in less than five minutes, why I haven’t called.**

Americans in my opinion (this may apply to Canadians too) are anxious and suspicious about not working. The world may not spin if they aren’t at the helm; they fear they will miss out on something, or they will be seen as lazy do-little loafers not worthy of a job. That last point is worth looking at. I think a lot of my patients are wary of working less (even when they know they should) lest they be seen in a negative light by their taskmasters. Asking for a four day work week (let alone no work on weekends) is the 21st-century of Oliver Twist asking for more gruel. Oh the horror.

If I had a choice between working only four days a week or working M-F with no work before 8AM and none after 5PM, I would choose the latter. Going to 4 days a week would not slightly improve my life – not unless my job or society changes.

Do you work 4 days a week?

Do you think you could?

Do you think Americans are working ourselves to death? (or, if you are from a more civilized country, one with universal healthcare, for example) do you have four day work weeks?

*Have you ever gone to a place that doesn’t have ‘time-saving devices’ only to discover you have plenty of time?

** My turned-off phone for attending the theatre, meals at home or in restaurants, for taking a nap apparently borders on malpractice these days.