from “West Seattle 101” by Lori Hinton
When is the last time someone asked “how are you” and you did not reply “busy?”
Do you find yourself paging through your calendar weeks in advance just to schedule coffee with a friend? How many times do you need a weekend to recover from your weekend of running around doing errands to catch up from the workweek?
Sound familiar? You are not alone.
What experts refer to as “time poverty” looms in the streets of West Seattle and nationwide. For years, mandatory overtime has been at historically high levels. Each year the average American works 350 hours more than the average Western European. And it continues to increase. Work weeks run longer and vacations get cut shorter, if taken at all.
But for one day each October, there’s something you can do to keep from becoming a victim of time burglary.
It’s called Take Back Your Time Day.
It’s a nonpartisan national initiative, with some of its strongest supporters rooted right here in West Seattle. Take Back Your Time Day calls attention to the problems of overwork, over-scheduling and time poverty that now threatens America’s health, family life, civic life and environment.
The date of the annual event falls on October 24th, exactly nine weeks before the end of the year, signifying the additional amount of time each year that Americans work above and beyond their European counterparts.
“We’re hoping to spark a national conversation about overwork and time pressure in America,” says Take Back Your Time Day National Coordinator and the initiative’s official handbook editor, John de Graaf. “Something like what the discussion of Earth Day did for the environment.”
De Graaf is an independent documentary filmmaker at KCTS TV and an author known best for his book and film titled “Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic.” But many of de Graaf’s cohorts in the movement hail from West Seattle including Steven Bezruchka, MD, of UW School of Public Health; Paul Loeb, author of “Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time”; and Doug Frick, a video producer. And these local activists are making their mark on the nation, even in the eyes of skeptics.
While many may argue that working less is bad for business, Time Day supporters such as Sharon Lobel of Seattle University’s Albers School of Business believe that working less is actually good for business. According to Lobel, working fewer hours fosters more loyal workers, employees feel better about work they’re doing, and they feel better in general causing fewer health expenses, less absenteeism, and more creativity in the workplace.
So what can a West Seattleite do? How about 100 other activities (besides this one) which appear in the “West Seattle 101” book? (And check the WSB Events calendar!) Whether you choose to do one a week or one a month, spending your precious time on activities outside of work in your community is a conscious, healthy choice. So page through and see what you can do in West Seattle to take back your time.
What: Take Back Your Time Day
Where: Everywhere and anywhere (go to: www.timeday.org)
When: October 24th, each year
Price: Free; your time, of course, is priceless
Find more “West Seattle 101” stories on WSB by going here.