Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Happy Take Back Your Time Day!

Today is October 24th. All day I've been trying to think of why this date sounds familiar. I've been scrolling through family and friend birthday lists in my mind. And then it occurred to me. It's Take Back Your Time Day!

Take Back Your Time Day is honored every October 24th. Why October 24th? Because it symbolizes the fact that every year Americans work 9 weeks longer than their European counterparts. So, in Europe if you bank your vacation, you could stop working on October 24th and have the rest of the year off! Compare that to the usual 2 weeks off for the typical working American.

You can learn A LOT more about this great movement on their website.

Their website states:

TAKE BACK YOUR TIME is a major U.S./Canadian initiative to challenge the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine that now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and our environment.
They go on to describe "time poverty."

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE? Are you, or your friends or relatives, working more now but enjoying it less? Does your family's schedule feel like a road race? If so, you're not alone. Millions of Americans are overworked, over-scheduled and just plain stressed out.

  • We're putting in longer hours on the job now than we did in the 1950s, despite promises of a coming age of leisure before the year 2000.

  • In fact, we're working more than medieval peasants did, and more than the citizens of any other industrial country.

  • Mandatory overtime is at near record levels, in spite of a recession.

  • On average, we work nearly nine full weeks (350 hours) LONGER per year than our peers in Western Europe do.

  • Working Americans average a little over two weeks of vacation per year, while Europeans average five to six weeks. Many of us (including 37% of women earning less than $40,000 per year) get no paid vacation at all.

Contemporary Americans complain of unprecedented levels of busyness in everyday life. They worry about frenetic schedules, hurried children, couples with no time together, families who rarely eat meals together, and an onslaught of "hidden work" from proliferating emails, junk mail, and telemarketing calls. The Girl Scouts recently introduced a "Stress Free" merit badge for today's harried young girls.

More information from their website:


  • Time stress threatens our health. It leads to fatigue, accidents and injuries. It reduces time for exercise and encourages consumption of calorie-laden fast foods. Job stress and burnout costs the U.S. economy more than $300 billion a year.

  • Time stress threatens our marriages, families and relationships as we find less time for each other, less time to care for our children and elders, less time to just hang out.

  • It weakens our communities. We have less time to know our neighbors, supervise our young people, and volunteer.

  • It reduces employment as fewer people are hired and then required to work longer hours, or are hired for poor part-time jobs without benefits.

  • It leaves many of us with little time to vote, much less be informed, active citizens.

  • It leaves us little time for ourselves, for self-development, or for spiritual growth.

  • It leads to growing neglect and abuse of pets.

  • It even contributes to the destruction of our environment. Studies show that lack of time encourages use of convenience and throwaway items and reduces recycling.

TAKE BACK YOUR TIME DAY IS NOT ANTI-WORK. Useful and creative work is essential to happiness. But American life has gotten way out of balance. Producing and consuming more have become the single-minded obsession of the American economy, while other values -- strong families and communities, good health and a clean environment, active citizenship and social justice, time for nature and the soul -- are increasingly neglected.

The website goes on to say what they're doing about it and different ways we can all participate in the movement. THIS is the kind of organization for which I can totally see myself volunteering. I often consider it. For now, I at least spread the word, share the site, and highly, HIGHLY recommend the book. The title of the book is Take Back Your Time: Fighting Overwork and Time Poverty in America. We own it and count it among some of THE MOST influential books we've read. We cannot recommend it highly enough. It is eye opening and life altering. Read it! Each chapter addresses a different aspect of time poverty and what we can do about it, full of interesting studies and fascinating statistics. It is a book of 30 essays by many different contributors.

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