Slow Down and Take a Break

Slow down, Take Back Your Time Day Planners

By Ellen Wulfhorst

Workers of America, take a break!

Born out of concern over the long hours U.S. workers put in on the job, Take Back Your Time Day, set for October 24, is an effort to remind hurried, harried people of what they’re missing. “Slow down,” say program organizers who range from academics to activists to volunteers. Turn off the cell phone, look at the falling leaves, sit down to a family dinner, take a nap or just take a deep breath. This will be the fourth annual Take Back Your Time Day, marked by events ranging from panel discussions to potluck suppers, organizers said.

“Time is so important,” said organizer Bonnie Michaels, a work-life consultant based in Naples, Florida. “What we’re
offering is to help people pay attention to the fact there are little ways to take it back.”

The idea is to persuade U.S. workers — who tend to work long hours, put in more work hours then their European counterparts and often fail to use their allotted vacation time — to work less, he said. Studies show working less improves productivity, employee health and morale and reduces absenteeism and on-the-job accidents, supporters say.

Having an annual Take Back Your Time Day helps get the simple message across, said Michaels. “It’s such a difficult chore to get people to pay attention,” she said. “We’re just trying to remind people that they have some choices and to set some limits in their lives. It’s like retraining yourself to have empty space.”

Organizers are quick to say it takes more than one day a year to make a change. They advocate regulations and legislation that would guarantee paid sick leave, paid vacations, paid leave for parents of newborns or adopted children and limits on compulsory overtime.

SOURCE: Biological Psychiatry, October 2006