The Internet seems to agree: Americans are working really hard. Perhaps too hard. According to a study from Good Technology picked up by Sarah Perez of TechCrunch (among others), 80 percent of 1,000 U.S. workers surveyed worked after leaving the office. The study found people check their email in bed in the morning (50%), before 8 a.m. (68%), after 10 p.m. (40%), when they are out with their families (57%), and when they are at the dinner table (38%). And 69 percent say they can't go to bed without doing so. All of this means we are almost working an entire extra day of work from home.
Meanwhile, The Atlantic's Derek Thompson writes that the U.S. is "practically the only developed country in the world that doesn't require companies to give their workers time off." And to make matters worse we don't take advantage of our breaks when we do get them. As Thompson writes:
In 2011, a Harris Interactive study found that 57% of working Americans had up to two weeks of unused vacation time at the end of 2011. Multiple hours-worked studies conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the OECD have found the Americans work longer hours than practically any advanced country except South Korea and Japan.
So why not take a break? That's what Tim Kreider posits in the New York Times' Opinionator. Kreider writes about an epidemic of busyness, and advises people to try out "idleness" sometime:
Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.
In a response to that piece, Slate's Hanna Rosin explains that she sees busyness as "a condition we are passively not resisting, a trap we can’t see our way out of."
So, now that we can safely admit that we all work too much maybe we can all collectively chill out? Probably not.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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