Thank God it’s Tuesday. I love my work in the library, but one of the reasons I find it so enjoyable is that I’m usually there only 3 ½ days a week. I work Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday (that’s the half bit). Every Wednesday (weather permitting) I join a friendly group for a 3 ½ hour to 5 ½ hour hike. I can’t tell you just how much I enjoy this. Not only do we walk in the some of the most beautiful and pristine places in the Far North of New Zealand, this time spent in nature works as a perfect counter-point to my time at work and with writing that cannot be done without technology. So while I watch full-time workers get progressively more stressed and sluggish as each week wears on, I’m fresh and raring to go every time I arrive at work in the morning.

8 hour dayIn the past more than 100 years worthy individuals have laboured long and hard to improve the rights of workers, introducing such revolutionary (at the time) concepts as the 5-day week and the eight-hour day. We’ve inherited this hard-won paradigm and it has worked well. But now, as countries the world over have privatised state assets such as power, telephone and rail we’ve experienced dramatic spikes in unemployment. This in turn has led to increases in crime and family violence. People without worthy work tend towards harmful actions.

If every full-time worker dropped a full day of work, we’d instantly increase jobs by 20%. Yes, people would need to learn to live with less but they would then have the opportunity to discover what they could do with more spare time. They could have more quality time with their families, join a service organization, exercise more. The opportunities are endless. They might have to live with fewer expensive gadgets, but they just might find, as I have, that life can be extremely satisfying, complete and meaningful when work and leisure time are in balance.

If we all worked fewer hours perhaps we’d reach less for the short-term props of caffeine and sugar, the drugs that fuel our current over-full lifestyles.

When I started work with the telephone company in Canada in the early 1980s I watched colleagues with management positions similar to mine retire one year and die the next. Some people are so married to their jobs that they forget or choose not to experience the wealth of life outside the workplace. If retirement frightens you why not ease into it by dropping one work-day a week every few years as you approach the gold card plateau?

Why work too hard and spend your health trying to achieve wealth and then retire and spend your wealth trying to get back your health? Why not live now?

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See