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Why Is There Tension Between Productivity and Leisure?

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It is a relief to know that one can be poor, young, and unemployed, and yet fairly content with life; indeed, one of the hallmarks of a decent society is that it can make even poverty bearable. But the long-term prospects of these men may be even bleaker than their present. As Hurst and others have emphasized, these young men have disconnected from both the labor market and the dating pool. They are on track to grow up without spouses, families, or a work history

They may grow up to be rudderless middle-aged men, hovering around the poverty line, trapped in the narcotic undertow of cheap entertainment while the labor market fails to present them with adequate working opportunities.

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Fifteen years ago, most offices were completely rooted on-site: paperwork, records, and communication (phone, primarily) were all tied to you being physically in the office. Technology changed that. With the advent of the cloud especially, anyone can access almost any file they need from anywhere. Text messages and emails go directly to your phone. The old “After 5pm I cannot access work resources” turned into “I might be expected to respond to something at 11:30pm.” There is so much to get done at work and schedules are so tight that needs to be the focus. After all, work provides your livelihood. You need to do it well. Since there are only so many waking hours in a day, though, you need to cut something. Often this becomes leisure time. Leisure activities like hiking, reading, and spending time with family are often cut first for more hours of work. Even though you’re working more, productivity is going to drop. A study conducted by the Institute for the Study of Labor has shown that 55 hours per week is a maximum ceiling on human productivity. You might be expected to work more, but a person working 54 hours per week is about as productive as someone working 80 hours per week. Leisure time is also crucial to creating bursts of insight and new ways of thinking. Very few people come up with big, great, innovative ideas while focused on the “getting, making, and doing” of day-to-day task work. When you’re too focused (as in task work), it’s easy to get stuck in one way of thinking. When you’re doing other things (i.e. leisure time), a concept called “diffuse thinking” kicks in and the brain can actually analyze much more information at once. This leads to increased connections between events or ideas, which is good for boming up with new solutions and innovations

The field of economics considers leisure a “normal commodity,” with the yield from leisure being satisfaction. Leisure time is used for resting, sleeping, relationship-building, and doing things you enjoy, so it is inherently satisfaction-producing. Having less leisure time will therefore decrease satisfaction in individuals. Instead of cutting leisure time to work more, make time for leisure and utilize it to help you think about bigger ideas and work more efficiently. I understand it’s difficult to just stop working when you’re so busy and do something for leisure, so here are some steps to help you make time for leisure and turn it into your productivity booster.

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Vicarious leisure and consumption on the other hand are the types of leisure and consumption that developed over the 20th century where masters used their servants to show off their wealth

The masters give their servants the time and opportunity to take part in leisure activities as a means of showing off their status. The upper class also portrayed vicarious leisure by having non productive labor performed by servants at a fee. Personal services are therefore performed by employees instead of a member of the household (Veblen, 49). Old money was the wealth that the very rich acquired through inheritance. This form of wealth was passed down from generation to generation. In the 1930’s there was a division of the upper class in the United States. There were the upper-upper class, whose families had inherited their wealth and the lower-upper class who had attained their wealth through investments as opposed to inheritance (Aldrich, 31). Old moneyhad one major advantage; it gave the young people who had inherited it a platform on which to develop themselves without having to worry about basic need such as housing and food. They would therefore be able to develop faster than those who did not have any inheritance. Families that were rich would command respect than those which did not which meant that old money was important in society and as a form of acquiring status. The inherited wealth may be in the form of either property such as land, businesses or slaves (Aldrich, 31). The leisure class composed of the elite in society who operated in circles and they spent a lot having other people attend to what they required. Over the years however, these circles have been broken or at least weakened as more people are able to afford leisure activities that were previously a preserve of the leisure class. In the past, some of the leisure activities included going to the theatre, playing polo and fox hunting. Leisure resources have however increased for instance sports teams and community centers therefore the activities that previously symbolized luxury have become affordable to many. The upper class is therefore forced to keep looking for new activities that are not taken up by people from lower social classes (Ruskin, 22).

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Briefly, it’s important that you find enough time to enjoy all different aspects of your life, otherwise you can burn out. The first thing you need to do is write down your Intentions. These are things that you want to turn into reality for the next week

Attending your daughter’s recital, going to church or taking care of your tax return are all Intentions. So make sure you write your Intentions down in your diary for a certain day and allow time for them. Intentions don’t have to be tasks, either. They can be as simple as wanting to Be Kind. If you want to live your ideal life, first you have to plan it, and then live it! This is the key to managing work life balance. It’s important that you don’t put off until retirement something you’ve always wanted to do. Remember, dreams are goals without a deadline. So if you want to turn your dream into reality, then you need to give it a deadline.

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Aldrich, Nelson. Old money: the mythology of wealth in America. New York: Allworth Communications, 1997. Print

Mormino, Gary. Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida. Florida: University Press of Florida, 2008.

Ruskin, John. The stones of Venice: The Savageness of Gothic Architecture. Bavaria: the Bavarian State Library, 2008

Veblen, Thorstein. The theory of the leisure class. New York: Forgotten Books, 1965

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