When I first moved into an RV and began working from the road, I had a long list of freedoms I was going to enjoy. At the top of the list was the ability to work (and not work) whenever I wanted.
I imagined spending Mondays at the beach and Saturday afternoons writing. I was going to be a timetable rebel, free from society’s antiquated rules about when we should and should not be working. Who says, after all, that we are more productive on Wednesdays than on Saturdays? Who decided that the hours between 9 am and 5pm would be set aside for working? "Who says?" I demanded with anti-establishment indignation.
Henry Ford said.
Historically, Ford is credited with setting the now familiar split between working hours and leisure time. When he set these hours for factory worker assembling his automobiles, he did so in order to be sure he was creating ample time off, hoping this would encourage his employees to become his customers. The forty-hour work week was a vast improvement over the previously long hours required in most factories. It was, however, a vastly different schedule than that kept by agricultural societies and pre-industrial cultures whose work times were set by season and sunlight.
I’m neither a farmer nor a factory worker. I don’t work in an office or for an employer. I’m a freelance writer whose workspace consists of the laptop I keep in a backpack and whatever coffee shop or library has the best wifi connection. And yet I’ve found that after nearly nine months of this mobile lifestyle, I’m still pretty much bound by Ford’s work week.
Sure, I can start my work day after 9 am and I frequently shut down before 5 pm. I have been known to take long weekends. But Mondays come with an onslaught of email and deadlines and Sundays are almost always a day of lazy rest. Part of this is because my kids are enrolled in a virtual school that requires Monday through Friday log ins (which I think is dumb for a virtual school program, but that’s another post entirely), and part of this is because most of the people with and for whom I do work are not trying out a crazy, nomadic existence. I have to, to some extent, be available when they are available.
The realization that I am still working on almost the same clock as everyone else in the workforce leaves me a bit disillusioned, like a composting conservationist who realizes they can’t afford a hybrid. It’s not that I mind my current work schedule, I’m just annoyed to discover that I’m still in a box for which I imagined myself to be too evolved.
I may be a bit of a rebel. I may be living a few feet outside the lines of normal. But the work week/weekend standard is one norm I’m just not revolutionary enough to break.