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You grow up, you work half a century, you get a golden handshake, you rest a couple of years and you’re dead. And the only thing that makes the crazy ride worthwhile is, ‘Did I enjoy it? What did I learn? What was the point?’ Do you know which philosopher said that? David Brent.

Work Less, what a controversial concept. The concept that we should spend less time in front of our terminals and more time with our family, with our friends, partaking in hobbies, creating art, listening to music is somehow shrouded in controversy.

As a software engineer and minimalist my earnings are much higher than my outgoings. And as someone well educated in finances I have currently have a savings rate of 50-75% of my income. All that saving for something – I don’t know what – I don’t like the idea of owning a house, or a car, I don’t have any children.

Modern society pushes us towards constant consumption of junk. Junk food, junk news, social media. To keep up with this consumption we must pay, either with money or our most precious commodity, time. We consume more and more, and have to work longer hours to keep up with our consumption.

I think there is a massive problem with the way that society operates right now, and that it relies on people working and consuming full time. Remember at the beginning of the covid pandemic when within a couple of weeks of non essential retail closing temporarily the economy was on the verge of collapse and we had to bail out the billionaires again?

[…] 36% of employees were high performers at organizations with a standard 40-hour work week. Organizations that offer employees flexibility over when, where and how much they work, see 55% of their work force as high performers.

Harvard Business Review, 2021

It’s been proven that reducing working hours increases productivity and employee morale, but most companies refuse to adopt this pattern of working. I think there are two reasons why so many companies want everyone in the office from 9-5.

  1. They have no good way of measuring productivity other than hours spent in chair. (A management issue: create better performance indicators)
  2. Managers like the idea of owning the majority of the hours in the employee’s day. (Also a management issue: too many sociopaths in middle management)

So now if we have established that the 9-5 work day is not good for employees (because they lose most of their day and therefore life), and not good for employers (because employees are less productive); we should ask ourselves who is it good for? And I suppose the answer to that is the economy.

Why the fuck you think most of us work from nine to five? Cause nine to six might kill a bitch.

Dave Chappelle, The Bird Revelation

Much like people earning minimum wage are essentially being told “I would pay you less if it was legal”, people working 9-5 are being told “I would force you to work more if it was acceptable”.

In 2018 workers in the UK put in £32 billion of unpaid overtime, so companies are successfully able to extract more even more value from their minions than they pay them for. This is usually managed through manipulation (work-family culture) or fear of unemployment.

9-5 keeps us tired, it keeps us under control, keeps us consuming. We don’t really have time for anything but work. We come home exhausted from work, too tired to look after our physical or mental health in any meaningful way. We do get a scrap thrown our way and willingly and thankfully partake in a light poisoning in our free time.

What can we do about all this then? In my opinion, take mini retirements whenever possible – even at the expense of our big retirement at the end – we might not even make it to that one. Save money, don’t buy things you don’t need, work hard at being able to work less. I would give this advice to most people doing bullshit jobs: work as little as you can, no one will regret working less on their death bed.