Work less: the 6 contradictions to overcome

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« Nous sommes nombreux·ses à rêver de ralentir, mais nous nous sentons piégé·e·s par un environnement qui nous empêche de passer la vitesse inférieure. »

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Today, time is a scarce commodity. However, according to sociologist Jean Viard, our unconstrained time, that is to say the time we do not spend sleeping or working, has doubled since 1900.

Today we work “only” 10% of our existence, or 200,000 hours, when a worker at the turn of the century devoted 50% of his life to the factory, with a shorter life expectancy and weak labor rights. So why are so many of us feeling like hamsters in a wheel throwing at full speed?

Contradiction n ° 1: more productivity to work more, consume more and produce more

In the 1930s, economist Keynes looked at his crystal curl and predicted 15-hour weeks thanks to increased productivity. But that was without counting a triple “kiss-cool” effect, of which we will give you a fine analysis:

– Our consumer society shows a foolproof gluttony: we change sophisticated phones every two years and fly to Bali to perfect our sun salutation. More comfort (for some only, let's not forget) also means more work to follow.

– In order to achieve this level of comfort while maintaining ease of use for the consumer, some organizations have become behemoths, kinds of superstructures with 1,000 intermediaries and 10,000 processes that mass produce “bullshit jobs”.

– It would seem that in the end there is not such a strong link between an increase in productivity and a decrease in working time, perhaps because “work” is not only a neutral tool intended to produce this which is necessary for us. Its place in our life is also conditioned by the dominant ideologies and the values ​​they advocate.

Contradiction n ° 2: slow down yes, but without losing face at work

Many of us dream of slowing down, but we feel trapped by an environment that prevents us from slipping into a lower gear: how dare to leave at 5:30 p.m. when colleagues stay until 7 p.m. The zeal is such that some go to work even if they are sick. Paradoxically, according to an article in Le Monde from 2021, “The more the work is intense, invasive (overflowing on private life, or constrained), the more the presenteeism is asserted”.

Aurore Carric / “Guide des Paumé.es”

Relations with colleagues also have something to do with it: “Tense relations with the hierarchy, being the object of hostility from certain colleagues or going through a period of reorganization in one's company pushes to avoid taking time off, as does the fear of losing one's job. “

Contradiction n ° 3: slow down, yes, disconnect, blah

If we don't work less, we would like our brain to be able to go into pause mode outside of work hours. But how can we cut our phone when our boss takes pleasure in writing to us at odd hours?

More than 45% of employees use their personal mobile to work, according to a survey by the temping agency Qapa, and 63% of respondents send professional emails on vacation.

Contradiction # 4: we plan our free time like our work

We no longer know if we are preparing a vacation with friends in La Ciotat or an integration seminar for colleagues. Our so-called “free” time is often millimetered, measured, as if it were also convertible into cash.

To succeed in having dinner with Marine and Tom, those overbooked college friends, you know in advance that you will have to do a doodle 3 months in advance. Not to mention the many associative, artistic, family, friendly projects that squat our jobs-of-not-enough-time.

Contradiction n ° 5: we put the pressure on ourselves

Why ? Quite simply because working a lot is still highly valued in society. Besides, when your friend Jean-Marc says over a beer, with the head of a panda with kangaroo pockets dug under his eyes, “I am STILL a cart this week”, most of the people present nod with a sparkle in their eyes. A man who dedicates himself to his work body and soul, that's beautiful, that's sublime!

Next time, you can anonymously whisper the following figure: according to a very serious and therefore American study of 600,000 people from Europe, the United States and Australia, working more than 55 hours per week would increase by 33%. the risk of having a stroke and 13% that of developing coronary heart disease, compared to working 35 to 40 hours a week. Good atmosphere guaranteed.

Contradiction n ° 6: work a lot, then no longer work, at all

The current pace of work encourages us to never take breaks, take our head out of the water or slow down, except during holidays or periods of more or less forced unemployment.

And if, at the level of society, we were encouraged to take mini-retreats, to alternate otium and negotium (for those who have not revised their Asterix, that is to say “free time” and “free time”, who respect our cycles), to juggle between action and contemplation?

* “Guide des paumé.es” by Aurore Le Bihan and Lucie Chartouny from makesense, 216 pages, Marabout editions, 19.90 Pounds


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