Rethinking attitudes toward work and working hours is central to the Simpler Way. Most of the things we consume have to be purchased, and this means that the more we consume, the more time we have to spend working to pay for our lifestyles.
- Consider reducing working hours: Everybody’s situation is different, so reducing working hours may not be feasible. But if you and your household find ways to significantly reduce your overall consumption expenditure, you may find that you don’t have to work so many hours a week in paid employment. This will free up more time to pursue your private passions and engage with your community in meaningful and fulfilling ways. This may reduce your material wealth, but it is likely to increase your quality of life. What a good trade!
- But how? If you think it may be feasible to fund a simpler lifestyle by working less, the question is how to make this a reality. There are two main paths to reduced working hours: One option is to find a new job that offers part-time work. The second option is to approach your current employer and ask whether it would be possible to work fewer hours per week on pro rata reduced wages / salary. Your employer might be more open to it than you think. After all, it means reduced costs for them. It may also increase your own productivity.
- What to do with a pay rise? There will probably come a time in your working life when you are offered a pay rise. One option, as noted above, is to save your raise. But there is another option, too. Rather than accepting the extra money and spending more, ask whether you can stay on the same wages / salary but work less. For example, you might ask for one afternoon off per week. Again, your employer might be quite happy to accept such an arrangement.
- Work from home one day per week: Another way to rethink your work life is to consider whether it would be possible to work one or more days from home. This will not be possible for all jobs, but it will be for some. This may a nice way to spend one of your working days. It will also reduce the amount of travelling you do to and from work, and that means less oil-dependency. Win-win.
- See if you can telecommute instead of traveling: Many jobs today require travel in between suburbs, cities, or even countries. Using video-conferencing technology can greatly reduce the need to travel for work. Look into it. Your employer might be happy for you to do this too, as it will reduce their costs (and it will also significantly reduce carbon emissions).
- If you need less, you have less pressure to work for dodgy businesses: Sometimes people find themselves pressured or seduced for financial reasons to work for businesses that don’t really contribute to the common good. If you don’t need much money, however, you may find that you can choose work that pays less but which might be more fulfilling and socially worthwhile.
- Home production: Turn your home into a place of production, not merely consumption. Develop a skill that interests you and learn how to produce something you or your community needs.
- Vote with your time: On the page discussing money it is noted that ‘how we spend our money is how we vote on what exists in the world.’ The same goes for how we spend our time. Time is life – don’t waste it. We have only this moment.