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The 8-hour workday - from socialist dream to a worker's nightmare

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The 8-hour workday - from socialist dream to a worker's nightmare Empty The 8-hour workday - from socialist dream to a worker's nightmare

Post by Ben Reilly on Fri Nov 22, 2019 11:57 pm

I think this is one of those things that everybody knows deep down but that nobody talks about. Interesting article:

The eight-hour workday started its life as a socialist dream. The Welsh textile mill owner and social reformer Robert Owen is credited as the first person to articulate it, by calling for “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, and eight hours rest” for workers in the early 19th century. This was much better than the 12- or 14-hour days factory workers, including children, were expected to put in at the time. Over the next 100 years or so, labor unions in the US pushed for and won adoption of the eight-hour standard in various industries. Henry Ford brought the idea further into the mainstream in 1926 by mandating a five-day, 40-hour workweek in his company’s factories. In 1940, Congress officially set the American workweek at 40 hours.
There’s just one problem in 2019: It’s all but impossible to actually work for eight hours a day in the jobs so many of us now have. Like most people writing hot takes and think pieces about productivity, I’m focusing on knowledge workers here—those of us who work at desks, mostly in front of computers, in offices or from home. Especially those of us who spend those hours making things, like writers, coders, and graphic designers. (Honestly, I think eight hours a day is too long to work in a factory, a restaurant, a call center, or a store too, and we should rethink and relegislate this standard in all industries.)

I’m a full-time freelance writer who works from home, so I’m responsible for setting my own schedule. This is great, and also terrible. Like many knowledge workers, I reach the end of many workdays thinking, Where did all those hours go? What did I actually do today? And unlike people who go to an office, I can’t say Oh, I went to the office! I don’t have an external measure of productivity to judge myself against, aside from the culturally ingrained idea that if I’m a “full-time” writer, I should be working for eight hours a day, five days a week.

To figure out where my hours were going, and if I was meeting this arbitrary metric designed for criminally exploited 19th-century factory workers, I installed RescueTime. This is essentially spyware I use on myself. It tracks everything I do on my computer and shows me how long I spend working each day, and what I actually do during that time. It’s creepy, and I love it.
I recently had an exceptionally busy and stressful week of work, as I was finishing a long magazine feature and writing a quick-turnaround science news story about a technical topic. Trying to do both those things at the same time was definitely too much work. I know this because I felt awful—depressed, anxious, eating poorly, and not exercising enough—during this push, and because I got sick immediately after it was over.
When I looked at my RescueTime stats from those days (a Wednesday to a Monday; freelance schedules are weird), it turned out I had worked a total of 35 hours and 17 minutes.

“Hatred is the coward's revenge for being intimidated.”

– George Bernard Shaw
Ben Reilly
Ben Reilly
Cowboy King. Dread Pirate of the Guadalupe. Robin Hood of Epping Forest. Fifty Shades of Cray.

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The 8-hour workday - from socialist dream to a worker's nightmare Empty Re: The 8-hour workday - from socialist dream to a worker's nightmare

Post by 'Wolfie on Sat Nov 23, 2019 12:14 am


35 hours over 5 days is only 7 hours a day...  That's not a heavy workload..

I think she needs to learn to structure and regiment her time, work in blocks of time..

E,g. Work 2 hours, take an hour or two off to eat properly, exercise, get outside --  and then get back into another two hours of work..

That way, you get a solid 8 hours of actual work over a 12 hour 'shift' --  that way you have 40 hours or real work time available over 5 days ==  5 hours more than she found in her disorganised, stressful, "muddle headed wombat" shambolic approach, that eventually left her "sick" and feeling downtrodden at the end of two items.

(After all she started off with the same 168 hours in her week that the rest of us have..).

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
Our life is frittered away by details. Simplify, simplify.
The mass of men lead lives of quite desperation.
Henry David Thoreau

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