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Work Hard, Play Hard? Doing the Math

March 9, 2011

In the modern day realities of working the 9 to 5, many espouse the idea of “work hard, play hard.”  You know, you put in your eight hours (okay, ten to twelve, but this is DC), you give the work your all, don’t take lunch breaks, whatever.  But then you party like there is no tomorrow, your own time is your own and you don’t think about work at all.  You fill the free time with so much activity that on the morrow, when at work again, it feels as though you had enough fun for three nights, which sustains you through the day. Rinse and repeat; a cycle of distinct sections, separated and contradicting types of time.
This social measuring of types of time is known as ‘time discipline.’ A brilliant socialist Brit named E.P Thompson

thought that in modern day society, time is no longer fungible, and that there is social currency and different expectations concerning different types of time. The strict separation of play and work time is what enables capitalism and productivity to work as it allows for specialization of labor.  That, and the introduction of the reliable and ubiquitous clock, also solidifies the notion that ‘time is money’ and therefore free time suddenly has a monetary value in terms of productivity lost.  There is a reason that people who make more money per hour often take less time off though they can more “afford” to: the McDonald’s worker loses about 60 dollars a day not working, the lawyer loses 1,000.  Leisure suddenly seems a little pricey.
Which is why the notion of “playing hard” or increasing the intensity of one’s leisure arose.  Instead of increasing the amount of time one had to one’s self (too costly!) people began to increase the amount of activity and the amount of ‘fun’ they had in the off moments they had.  Instead of decompressing after a long day, which relieves stress be isn’t really fun, per say, people started to party.  People drank.  A lot.  People upped the sexuality, the food, the social interaction.  To have enough fun to get through the difficulty of the work day, people had to work fast.  In short, people have to make sure the intensity of their fun matches the intensity of their work for their life to be balanced.
For a balanced life, where X is intensity.

FUN(X) * 2 Days  = WORK(X) * 5 Days

2FUN(X) = 5WORK(X)

FUN(X) = 2.5WORK(X)


For you non-math inclined, I just found that the amount of fun one has on the weekends has to be 2.5 times the amount of stress of work, a tall order, if you ask me.

I propose a different way of managing the stress of work.  Instead of the strict separation of work and play, integrate the two, make it one type of time.  This is nothing radical, and Marx would approve. Making work both productive and internally rewarding (dare I say fun?) would mean less alienation from your labor and an equation that looks something like:



And who said basic math isn’t fun?


This is easier said than done of course.  As the Who espoused in their song  ‘The Dirty Jobs’:  “I am a man who looks after the pigs / Usually I get along OK… / My karma tells me / You’ve been screwed again / If you let them do it to you / You’ve got yourself to blame.”   A lot of people don’t have the luxury of getting meaning out of their work.  But I maintain that if you try to find some purpose to your work, some little sort of internal satisfaction, a way to derive fun from labor, you wouldn’t need to exhaust yourself as much trying to cram in fun.   Life would feel more balanced.

And hey, if all else fails, you could always write a blog during working hours.
Take that, Adam Smith.
3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2011 1:59 PM

    How many views do you average per month?

    • March 9, 2011 2:06 PM

      Really varies; between 500-900?

      I love your blog, very jealous of the range of your travels. And your pictures are great; what kind of camera do you use?

  2. Diana Camosy permalink
    March 9, 2011 2:11 PM

    Interestingly, you’re edging into Emile Durkheim territory with your last paragraph.

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