Where Does the Fulcrum Lie?

Hugh has a funny drawing and an interesting post about the work vs leisure schism.

The real question in my mind is whether, taken as a whole, technology has been used to create more work time or more leisure time- or maybe both.

I have thought a lot (don’t ask me why this keeps popping into my head, but it does) about how much easier it is to get things done at night now than it was 125 years ago.  Back then, most of the work around these parts was done outside.  After the sun went down, it was pretty hard to work the fields, manage livestock, build fences, etc.

Then comes the engine and electricity, and all of the sudden lighting things up- houses, cars, tractors, etc. became much easier.  The efficient work day was expanded by hours.  At the same time, however, technology was making the work easier and faster.

Other technological advancements- typewriters, telephones, airplanes, computers, word processing, fax machines and the internet added to this effect. 

So you had a longer period of time to do what took less time to do.

And leisure time was born.

Some took advantage of this extra time to work less, and some used it to work more.  Over a hundred or so years, different philosophies about work and leisure (which includes not only playing golf and goofing off, but also family related activities) evolved.

Some believe that devoting much of this extra time to work will have a proportionate effect on their income and place on the corporate ladder.  That’s probably true to a point- I have certainly devoted a good chunk of my technology-created extra time to work.

But where’s the sweet spot?  At what point does the return from another hour at the office diminish to the point it is no longer efficient?  At what point does an extra dollar become less important than an extra hour with your kids- who grow up so fast?

This is a hard equation for people like me – and I suspect Hugh also- who have a hard time really relaxing.  I know that if I don’t have a project at home to work on, I get very fidgety.

But sometimes, you simply have to- or at least need to- slow down a little.

I don’t like new age semantics any more than Hugh does, but I think balance is the right word for this.

I’m not sure where the fulcrum lies, but I know it’s very hard in this technological world to hold up both ends of life all the time.

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