8 Hours a Day

In some religion (or possibly a court resolution from the Industrial Revolution), it says that you should have 8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of work, and 8 hours of play each day to live a perfectly balanced life.

I’ve always scoffed at this interpretation of reality, possibly because my belief structure has always been more like “worketh your butt off and ye shall be rewarded with social happiness, financial security, and lots of Apple products.”

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I’ve always had problems setting limits at my job, working nights to please and killing myself over small issues to make sure they came out right for the company. When I was a mortgage processor, I’d go over hundreds of pages of potential liens for each refinance line by line, trying to track down any potential threat before we issued title insurance papers (which, by the way, included an affidavit saying that we weren’t responsible for said liens in the case that we missed one). I once freaked out that a food order for a staff-appreciation lunch wasn’t going to be 100% perfect at a job that paid me $8/hr to count change. Over and over, I’d drive myself to extremes that were great for getting me recognized and promoted, but in the grand scheme of things, were pretty pointless.

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It took the following to change my definition of professional success:

  • 14 years in various workplaces
  • having a child
  • honestly examining the best case scenario of where my career was heading 10 years down the line

I still agree with the 8 hours of work thing, because I always need to have a problem to solve and a next step to plan in order for my brain to be happy. But, I’m learning to set limits, and am grateful that my various bosses respect them.


Instead of automatically saying YES YES YES I WILL DO ANYTHING (that is not morally repellant), I try to work hard every second when I’m on the clock, and to not answer my work email when I’m not. It’s hard not to check in, especially with all those apple products around, but it’s an infinitely better life.

A big motivator is that I’m trying to share the playtime with Maddox whenever possible. After a few months of taking Maddox out of daycare on random days to see how much free time I have with this new work schedule, we’re decreasing his days at daycare from 5 (full week) to 3 1/2.


Since it’s been summer, he and I have been doing a lot of playgrounds and walks, which mostly consist of him stuffing things down sewer grates while I listen to the latest “stuff you missed in history” podcasts in one ear, both of us exclaiming over sticks and fire hydrants (by the way, good job, city planners of Newburyport, there are a TON of hydrants in my neighborhood).

With an early-to-rise 2 year old and an addiction to late-night reading, the 8 hours of sleep thing is just never going to happen, but that, my friends, is why they invented Keurig machines.

Image credit: iPods, cat
Cartoon credit: Work Hard by Doug Savage

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