Work Less

Faced with systemic economic and environmental threats, we’ve been told we all have to work harder and find new technological fixes. Could it be that, instead, the best solution might be a simple, social innovation, an option we’ve had all along? If working less and better can reduce pressure on public services, create a healthier society and cut greenhouse gas emissions, is it time for national “gardening leave” for all?

Yes! A thousand times yes!

An excellent article in the Guardian by Andrew Simms.

One day, I hope, the proposal that we work fewer hours won’t seem so revolutionary. Why don’t we decrease our working hours with every passing year of human civil development? With today’s technology and such a massive workforce at our disposal, that part-time employment isn’t a worker’s normal circumstance is insane.

In the time they claimed back, the couple helped build gardens at their children’s nursery in Flitwick, Bedfordshire.

In her spare time, Cassidy has helped former prisoners with their rehabilitation, built a community garden for a housing association and been an activist

The commonest question to the part-time or unemployed person: what do you do all day? Well yesterday, for example, I sat around on my arse and read comic books, thinking “I might use my spare time to change the world one day. But not today”.

I do whatever I like. Because I can. And you can too.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

4 Responses to “Work Less”

  1. Tom says:

    Thanks for continuing to post links to interesting and relevant articles!
    I feel very fortunate to be able to have so much leisure time at my disposal, but I find I only really get anxious about how I spend my time when people ask me how I fill the gaps between work. Just a funny observation…
    I suppose it’s rather irrational to get worked up about this issue, seeing as I am personally very capable of enjoying every moment of “free time,” and actually end up being productive, even though I’m not really conscious of it.
    Reading your posts, for example, is one of the ways I would amuse myself when not physically working, and I am always guaranteed to learn something in the process. Self-educating is never a waste of time, in my opinion.

  2. Glad you enjoyed it Tom. There are probably two ways to greet the spare time question. Either have something amazing prepared in advance (“I’m writing a novel” / “I’m campaigning to save the whales”) or affect a total lack of interest in their criticism by saying you like to play Super Mario Brothers in the nude all day long!

  3. Joe says:

    I’m so glad you’re spreading this message. I think that the idea of quitting – running off into the woods, going self-sufficient etc – is too daunting for most people. But cutting out some of the clutter, the “luxuries”, and going part time is far more realistic.

    On my 4.5 days off each week, I usually sit around playing guitar. For a while, this incessant noodling was accompanied by a nagging sense of guilt and I realised with a shock that I clearly had an ingrained sense that constructive and enjoyable were mutually concepts. Too idle to make a significant change, I just sat with the feeling carried on. Eventually I realised that the hours of “practice” were paying off. Now, as a direct result of my inertia, I’m about ready to start seriously seeking out some paid gigs.

    Recently my housemate praised my diligence and focus with regard to the guitar (the poor guy hears it coming from my room all day long and never sees me leave the house without it) and I was really taken-aback. To me it’s just the equivalent of Super Mario Brothers or comic books.

    Everyone should spend as much time as possible doing what they love at all costs.

  4. Joe says:

    Excuse the typo above. I meant “mutually EXCLUSIVE concepts”, not “mutually concepts”.

    Although I suppose they are, mutually, concepts.

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