Do you work to live or live to work?

I saw a poll on LinkedIn that asked whether people would support a four-day working week. Whilst many people did, there were some interesting opinions thrown into the debate.

26/04/21

Diane Hall

I saw a poll on LinkedIn that asked whether people would support a four-day working week. Whilst many people did, there were some interesting opinions thrown into the debate.


Some businesspeople admitted that they enjoyed working 70+ hours each week, as they loved what they did for a living. Others feared that a four-day week would be the start of a slippery slope…that it would soon lead to a three-day week, then a two-day week (…’and where would the line be drawn?’).

Diane Hall headshot

Diane Hall headshot

I haven’t worked full-time since my first child was born, though both my girls are now adults and there’s no reason why I couldn’t. My other half works a full week, but his shift system also gives him four full days off. Even though I work, on average, two-thirds of the hours he does, I don’t enjoy more than one full day off a week.


If that sounds like my maths doesn’t add up, it’s because I use the time when I’m not at my employer’s to run errands. I’m Mum’s taxi, the housekeeper, or I’m marketing my hobby business—as well as a million-and-one other things. Life admin and the female mental load…well, that’s a subject in itself. It exists, believe me, and I say that despite the fact my husband does half, if not more, of the physical household chores.


A woman’s mental load is not actually what this article is about. I do get down-time, it’s just spread over seven days, as opposed to being impacted into four days out of every eight, like it is for my husband.


I enjoy working four short days a week; I love the variety, I like being able to slot other duties, such as food shopping or Zoom calls, into the gaps. I like getting home at 3pm every few days and sitting down with a cuppa.


I could take on more hours or an extra job to earn more money, as the surplus cash would undoubtedly come in handy. However, that would mean less time to enjoy a slower pace of life. As long as my husband and I can meet our bills and have enough left over to do things, I’m not sure the pay-off (pardon the pun) of a little more income is worth the time I’d have to sacrifice.


So, over to you…do you enjoy a decent amount of down-time now, or are you working all hours to enjoy your retirement?


I’ve personally made peace with the fact that I won’t retire early (or even when I’m entitled to). I don’t know if I’m planning to retire at all; as long as it’s on a part-time basis, I’m happy to work on until my faculties leave me or my health prevents it. What would I do in retirement, anyway? There are few places on Earth that I feel I need to see in person. I’d get bored within my own four walls, and my hubby’s hobby of watching anything and everything on TV is not one I share. I’d rather have that time now, thanks. In a few years, my girls will be starting out on their own. I want to appreciate the people they’ve become and spend time with them whilst they’re still at home.


Everyone is different, of course—that’s just what works for me and mine. I don’t strive to own material things (I’m not into flashy cars; they’re easily stolen, they lose tons of money in depreciation and my weathered Vauxhall manages to get me from A to B—which is, after all, the point of a car). 


Neither do I hanker after a huge house (a bit more space would be welcome, perhaps, but the security and worry required to keep a mansion impenetrable…and the cleaning of all those rooms!!).

I’m not out to impress anyone with what I have. I get a lot of fulfilment from my work, but I feel it should balance with other aspects of my life. If someone wants to work every hour God sends, that’s fine for them; that’s clearly their own idea of balance.


Success means different things to different people. I used to think I was ambitious and I would be happy as the female version of Richard Branson, but as I’ve got older, I’ve learned to appreciate the one thing money can’t buy.


Time.

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