The majority of the US workforce works 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
It’s a pretty grueling schedule and I think it’s a fair assessment to say that the majority of people do not like it.
Many of my therapy clients are women entrepreneurs, many of which started their own business to get away from the structured work week.
And yet, many of these entrepreneurs feel a twinge of guilt that they aren’t working the standard 40 hrs a week.
I sometimes feel guilty, too. As an art therapist in private practice, I see no more than 3 clients a day. I work Monday-Thursday.
Sometimes I find myself justifying my light hours to others. I’ll explain that there are many unseen duties outside of seeing clients in person, such as note taking, supervision and consultation hours, self-education, prepping for client meets, doing the finances, etc.
However, I would like it to be ok (within myself) that I simply work less than the standard American work week. Period. No justifications.
I don’t think the standard American work week is a healthy standard for us to measure or compare ourselves against.
The standard work week didn’t always exist in its current form (you can do some deep google research to learn how we got to where we are… or check out the book “Laziness Does Not Exist”).
I think it’s easy for us to forget that. To feel like we need to put in a full 8 hours of “productive work” to know we did “enough.”
What if our work schedule shifts to one that is based on our own priorities?
Priorities such as time with friends, self-nourishment, solitude, etc. Our priorities will be different for each of us, and we can choose how to meet them.
For some, maybe that looks like waking up early to work before the kids get up.
Maybe it looks like sleeping in late, getting a couple hours of work done, taking a break, doing some more work, and then meeting up with a close friend
Maybe it looks like working multiple 9 hr days in a row, with the rest of the days free.
Maybe it also looks like having an open schedule with lots of flexibility.
I understand that I am talking about an immense amount of privilege. Privilege to create a schedule that works best for oneself.
And for some, having a privilege that many others do not have leads to guilt. But that guilt doesn’t serve anyone. It simply keeps us trapped in a system that no one likes.
When guilt arises that I’m not working “enough,” it’s a sign that I’m no longer living in integrity with my original vision.
For me, I want to help others in a meaningful way, be financially independent, and support my mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
That means living a work schedule that supports ME as a human and the work I do.
It’s not the standard American work week, and that’s ok.
I provide therapy for individuals who want to learn how to honor their own needs.