The five-day work week is unnatural. And it is draining us. Tim Mousseau believes it is time we redefine time.
As I am writing this, I only know it is Saturday because my Moleskin tells me it is Saturday. Besides that, Saturday has lost all of its meaning. Today is a day in Texas, a day I drink coffee later at night, a day for good guacamole and a wonderful new hotel shower. It is just a day.
If only we all could live in such days.
Freeing Yourself from Routine
I began to notice a shift in how I viewed time at the beginning of my self-employment route last April. I was in a place where I had quit my job, I was beginning my path into entrepreneurship and across the summer, I was resting on my laurels. I had savings that soon disappeared and one consulting project that I stretched across months of income. In short, life went from the nine to five grind in a job that I detested to a beautiful blissful peace of not knowing what to do with my life. The first few days, the first experiences with this new lifestyle, they came slow. Slowly but surely, until finally, I realized I had lost concepts of time.
I was in a new place and it was curious to watch the world evolve around me. To see how humanity functioned in this linear path of living while I looked from the outside in. Life revolved around this schedule, one I knew, it was an old familiar friend, but after breaking free of it, hot damn I was shocked. It was akin to a burst of mental sobriety, a startling revelation of a world that I had forgotten. It wasn’t truly a world I had forgotten however because I never knew it. From a young age, we are programmed into this mindset that work happens for five days and the pause happens for two. We swallow this medicine never realizing that in reality, our human soul might be rejecting it from day one.
We just take it down because we are supposed to.
When I first stopped working in a routine, life opened up. It was a spring shower, just like the month of April. It never came down steady but instead was the tiny pitter patter of rain. The cooling scent of the approaching storm but never a cloud in the sky. A false promise of something that gently left dew in your life but never the full soak. I struggled through the idea of wanting a routine. I began to set it up and pretended I was in that place where I could do that. I pretended because in the beginning, the freedom lacked.
Then all of a sudden it hit. Like the hail storms of late May, the tornado warnings and the sudden outburst of the sky drenching everything. The storm, the one I had been sensing but never fully experiencing, it exploded across my mind. I went from wanting a routine to hating the very idea. Downfall sheets of ice, balled into the size of a golf ball, I found myself dented. My world was rocked by my new freedom.
This was the first time I began to let go of time and free my mind to the idea that I didn’t need routine. I didn’t need to function like I had. I didn’t need to force myself into the boxes the world had told me we should play in. The drug that had been forced into me since day one was finally purged from my system. And I fully enjoyed this purge. I allowed myself to taste life. Not for the first time, that would be dramatic, which I do have a flair for. But at the same token, I allowed myself to taste this new reality where I was no longer functioning according to a schedule.
And it was marvelous. Living outside the standardized time frame society constructed for us is freeing. It let me experience life in a whole new way.
Embracing Natural Spontaneity
I started this writing on an 18-day road trip for work. Because my job/life is ripped straight of an indie movie and doesn’t make much sense within the context of a majority of people’s realities, let’s leave it at that I travel every day. I am like George Clooney in Up in the Air except I am not firing people, I am attempting to inspire them. Fantastic difference. Also I am not George Clooney. Less awesome a distinction.
Without too heavily describing my work, let’s just note that I currently travel every day. I go from state to state to state. Across my 18 day trip, I have gone through 13 states, stayed in 15 hotels, and woken up almost every morning at 4 am to catch 5:30 flights to my next destination. It has been a beautiful, chaotic mess of humanity and work and professional joy and I’ve loved every second of it.
The most beautiful thing however is that over the past year, especially these 18 days, I have left behind all perceptions of conventional time. Not that I don’t know time exists, I constantly wear my silver and now slowly-faded black banded watch which has been changed across four time zones at this point. Its hands tick steady in circular pace with the sun reminding me that human’s like patterns and rhythm for functioning. No, I know time is a construct.
Time that I have lost is the time I was used to conforming to in the standard mode of life. The time most of us adapt across a majority of life. The time that we were told to worship as kids throughout the manner that we we attended grade school, the time we continued to adopt in college, and the time we inevitably drive deep into our veins in adulthood. The time I lost was the dangerous drug society pushed on us that kept us high. Maybe not high but at least it numbs us to the world and prevents us from falling apart under the weight of its self-manufactured stress.
The time I am talking about is the five day work week and the two day weekend. The anathema of my current existence and something I completely forget until I am reminded by people around me this is a thing. A enormously silly concept we have allowed to seize hold of our lives, claiming our souls, coiling itself around our humanity to the point that we don’t even question its hold. A frivolous addiction to mind-numbing routine.
Combining Discipline & Freedom
I can do anything I want really. Not entirely, I can’t fly yet and my dreams of taming dinosaurs is still confined to Jurassic Park. But in my life, with my schedule, I can do whatever I want. A few weeks ago I was talking with my dad and uncle, or more listening to them talk, about retirement. The comments they were making sounded exhausting. They couldn’t wait to retire and do X. Or go to this place. Or play golf whenever. Or do blank. You fill it in.
The thing is, I have that now. I go to the gym when I need energy in the middle of the day or in the morning or late at night. One Tuesday a friend and I decided at 2 pm we had a great day and wanted to grab beers. So we did just that and I had no reason to feel guilty. I had abundantly worked that day and worked plenty time later. There are mysterious days of the week where I want nothing more than pancakes, the greatest of all breakfast foods, so I will go and get pancakes. Because I can. Hikes happen frequently, life is lived well.
I found a way to support myself and work in a way where I wasn’t on this regular robotic routine. And it was liberating. I discovered in this process that there are days when it is good for me to work, and days where it is better for me to live. Stepping outside my routine allowed me to do both equally and both more passionately. That was the beauty.
I know everyone can’t live like this. We should though. I am more productive this way because my life is richer this way. I have everything I want and everything I need and everything I could ever ask because I define it outside a tiny box of reality other’s have constructed for me. My time is once again my own. I took it back, although I never knew what I was lacking in the first place. Time is a wonderful, complex human construct. Outside of the routine that society forces us into, there is a world that has always existed but we frequently miss. A world of time we gave up because the calendar and planner, the man and the machine, demanded we fit into routine.
I am glad I found this time back. The free time that we were supposed to experience. Routine can be shackling. Time, when properly seized, liberating. The key is seizing it, not standardizing it but instead experiencing it. Because there is a highly critical difference.