Rethinking American working habits

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These days, on average, Americans work about 9.2 hours a day, and many go on for that long without taking a break. Many workers don’t even bother taking their lunch break, and only one in three people report doing so. Meanwhile, most workers either eat at their desk or completely go without that mid-day meal and rest period.

The dream of the past was that modern technology would usher in an era where people would do less work. The reality that exists today, however, is that while technology has indeed made it possible for people to have an easier time doing certain tasks, many workers and offices are still seeking to get more things done.

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The drive to get more things done in the short amount of time available has convinced some people that multitasking is the key. Yet, according to studies, people weren’t meant to be multitasking for a worker’s productivity drops significantly if he or she chooses to engage in a multitude of tasks all at once instead of focusing on just one.

In addition, the focus on high productivity is not without consequences. Due to the long hours workers put in and their sedentary lifestyle, many are at higher risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease. It has gotten to the point that many articles have been published on how taking breaks and taking vacations are great ideas. As many of those articles highlight, the benefit of taking a timely break from work rewards a person with greater job satisfaction and higher productivity.

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Measuring work value in hours spent and the number of menial tasks accomplished is counterproductive, some experts argue. Overworked and underpaid employees don’t do their best at work and aren’t always engaged in their job. Despite the long hours put in by many workers, they don’t necessarily spend their time efficiently and creatively.

Evidently, there is a need for a change in work attitudes and policies. American work culture needs to move away from encouraging overworking and instead, should encourage creativity and innovation, as this will undoubtedly result in a more productive economy and a better life for all employees.

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