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Life In The Slow Lane

By Allan Eastman

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Everybody seems to think I’m Lazy, I don’t Mind, I think they’re Crazy

Company co-workers outdoor during coffee break.

Companies try to increase productivity by providing more rest periods and stimulating work environments.

©iStockphoto.com/Ekaterina Monakhova

From the Dark Satanic Mills of the Industrial revolution through Henry Ford’s assembly line to the modern office full of computer screens and cell phones, the workplace has been the central battlefront in the acceleration of life. People were “chained to their desks” – a metaphor for slavery – and the growth of high tech communications has elongated the work day. The value system around the workplace made people stay longer hours so that they would seem dedicated to their jobs to the bosses but often it was more about the fear of losing their jobs if they didn’t put in as much time as Speedy over there.

The results of this have led to massive new levels of stress and anxiety, with a complimentary uptick in heart attacks and even, suicide. The difficult work situation and stress has also adversely affected people’s sleep patterns with people in our time getting far less sleep than before. We are constantly fatigued even as we struggle to get things done. Burnout has become more common.

However, studies over the past decade have demonstrated that many of the cherished beliefs of the high speed office environment simply are not true. Multitasking, the ability to do more than one thing at a time, has been shown to lower concentration, fragment attention and therefore, generally results in less efficiency. Similarly, putting in long hours on the job has been shown to deliver progressively diminishing results. Productivity goes rapidly downward as one becomes more tired and less focused on the task at hand.

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Accordingly, more companies are trying to find ways of increasing productivity by providing more rest periods for their employees, more stimulating work environments and even encouraging their employees to actually spend less time in the office.

Many people are also utilizing the option of taking less money in exchange for having more Time available for family and other things that give meaning to their lives. They practice job sharing, negotiate shorter shifts or opt for part time employment. What they are doing is actually trading money for Time. Their paychecks may be smaller and their life styles less consumer driven but they feel better and are happier because they have the Time for the things they really care about.

And ultimately, shouldn’t happiness be the main objective of any human life?

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