A friend on Twitter brought this to my attention during the week.
It’s the results of a survey which documented the ideal day for a typical 21st century woman living in Western society. Apparently it would go something like this-75 minutes eating, 56 minutes shopping, 68 minutes exercising, 82 minutes socialising, 57 minutes on the phone, 33 minutes maximum commuting, 50 minutes preparing food and then an hour and a half spent enjoying the meal with family and friends, 98 minutes on the computer and 36 minutes working. They also would like to have 8 hours of slumber so adding all that up comes to just over 18 hours, which leaves just under 6 hours for personal grooming perhaps?
I wonder did they travel back in time to and asked women of the 50s how they’d like to spend their perfect day. I cannot think of one woman I know who would be happy with those findings. Indeed it’s a bit of a strange assignment-one woman’s perfume is another woman’s poison so trying to correlate the ideal day for the couple of billion or so of us on the planet is a bit daft. I personally find many things wrong with these figures but none more so that the paltry 36 minutes these women have deemed fit to assign to their quotidian work quota.
36 MINUTES???Now I’m all for a shorter working week. In fact I’m currently trying to move heaven and earth trying to attain that golden equation where I can spend enough hours with my daughter while making sure I leave enough time in the week to ensure my sanity remains intact and maintain some semblance of financial independence. It’s a challenging ask but 36 minutes is just not enough. In Ireland, we seem to have this skewed view of work where it’s something we all loathe. Ask yourself, how many people are actually happy in their job?Early retirement is the holy grail for many public servants. In places like Japan, this way of thinking is crazy. There, people don’t really retire, they just gradually reduce the amount of hours they work, until they are only working for an hour or so a day or as long as they wish-like 85 year old Jiro Ono, a master sushi chef who still works every day creating culinary masterpieces.
I have a theory as to why so many of us in Ireland might hate their job. Back in the neon, post rave haze of the late 90s, I was to be found filling out CAO forms with no real inkling of what it was I wanted to do, with a guidance counsellor who was hell bent on getting me to go into teaching-not at all where I wanted to be, and perhaps most damaging of all to my ambitions, a mere £200 registration fee for entry into third level education. So in essence, I was clueless, directionless and not really bound by any financial constraints in choosing what would become the basis of my career. I did well in the Leaving and could have done pretty much any course I wanted, with the exception of medicine or Law & French in Trinity, which always hovered unattainably around the 575 mark. I chose Arts, as broad a course as you can get and not exactly one that fasttracks your career.
Nowadays, the notion of free education is a thing of the past and students can expect to pay upwards of €2,250 each year. So I think you really want to be sure of what you’re picking or at least have more of a clue than I did. I fear to commit to print that actual amount of hours I have spent agonising over what it is I’ll do on the rest of my trips around the sun. Or the bitter pangs of jealously on seeing friends do well in jobs they were obviously born to do. If I could go back in time to 18 year old me, I’d get her to try harder to find a career she could start planing for in earnest. That may well have put me on a more rewarding and less stressful life path than the one littered with stints in call-centres, factories and offices, akin to that which many of my other fellow Arts graduates have no doubt trodden. Of course that path would probably have taken me away from Papa & Mini too and deep down, I know which outcome I prefer.