"To do something interesting, you need time. Nobody ever has time. Everyone is always in a hurry. Time is the secret."
—Roland Michaud (see some of his and his wife's fine photographs here)
(Thanks to Eliott James)
ADDENDUM: I really just wanted to post this to introduce you to the delightful Roland and Sabrina Michaud, who seem very much worth getting to know. But the discussion of time in the comments, which leads back to the "Eight Hours" post last month, is interesting too.
Since then, I've been reading the very interesting book Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte, recommended during that March discussion by my brother Scott, who, over the years, has been a steady and excellent source of reading recommendations.
It turns out that "busy-ness" has become a status symbol. In the U.S. it's an unintended consequence of a number of societal forces, most notably the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938. That's the law that first separated hourly wage-earners from salaried workers, and mandated overtime for hourly workers who worked more than 40 hours per week. But back then, only one out of seven workers was salaried; the rest were wage earners. And the salaried workers were higher-level managers, who were expected to take care of their own leisure. Now, a third of workers are salaried. And there's no law in place that limits the hours a salaried worker can be made to work. Combine that with the laws regarding benefits, and the result is that wage earners are highly likely to have time on their hands: in the lower echelons they're probably employed only part-time, and many companies even refuse to give workers a steady schedule, in order to prevent them from taking a second part-time job. So wage earners are now more likely to be lower class and to have time on their hands. Meanwhile, workers who are salaried are pressured to work many more hours than a mere 40 a week. But those jobs, of course, include all the best ones, the ones filled by all the better-educated and more highly qualified people—and that pay well.
Et voilà—it's a sign of status to be busy. It means you're better educated, have a better job, and are earning more money, and it implies that you're essential to the people you work for, because why else would they make so many demands of you and depend on you so much?
An interesting study that author Schulte recounts is one that analyzed hundreds of those Christmas letters that people mass-mail to their friends and family during the holidays. An overwhelming majority of those, it turns out, are mainly concerned with emphasizing busy-ness. Doing so much! Working hard, playing harder! Activities every which way! No time for anything! ...All just basic markers of high status.
Of course what it made me want to do is to write a Christmas letter emphasizing how un-busy I am and all the many ways I take time to stop and smell the roses. But that's not because I'm above it all; it's just because I'm a contrarian, and going against the grain means status to me. :-)
Anyway, a very interesting book. I second Scott's recommendation, if you're interested in the subject.
Original contents copyright 2016 by the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Bob Blakely: "tl;dr :-) "
HaJe: "Time is not something you just have. You have to take time. Only then will you have it."
Chris Y.: "Ah, Greg Brown—
Love calls like the wild birds
It's another day
The spring wind blew my list
Of things to do away...."
Andreas: "Re '...because why else would they make so many demands of you and depend on you so much?' Because they exploit you? ;-) "
Burple: "Actually, six out of seven workers aren't salaried today. According to the BLS, just under 60% of all workers are paid by the hour. Also, Dan Clawson and Naomi Gerstel's book Unequal Time: Gender, Class and Family in Employment Schedules, winner of the 2015 Max Weber Award given by the Society for the Organizations, Occupations, and Work section of the American Sociological Association, is an excellent read on this subject."
Mike replies: Fixed. Thanks.