10 and 2
Four days per week is interesting. How about 10 months per year? Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
I’ve written a bit recently about the move to adopt the four-day work week (along with a three-day week for five-day pay, at Chick-fil-A).
It turns out my colleague Jessica Stillman has written about another trend, one that’s inspired by European practices (Jess is an American living in Europe): organizing work schedules to take a full two months off per year. I like this idea—which seems a bit foreign to me, tbh—so, I asked if I could share her thoughts.
10 and 2
by Jess Stillman
The four-day workweek is having a moment. But what if four-day workweeks weren't the best way to relieve the pressure on busy professional people?
What if instead of rethinking when and how much we work each week, we rethought when and how much we work each year?
This idea might sound crazy to Americans, but I can personally assure you Europeans would just shrug their shoulders. I've lived for the past 10 years on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.
It's 100-plus degrees here all of July and August, and some of the world's best beaches are a tantalizingly short drive away. No wonder that basically the entire country shuts down for all of August and decamps for a sun lounger.
And it's not just here. Across continental Europe, multiweek, if not month-long, summer getaways are the norm. That's highly annoying if you need to complete a banking or bureaucratic task in August, but despite these headaches, for the most part businesses over here continue to hum along fine while citizens enjoy a far less stressful pace of life.
This is, sadly, not a model many Americans can aspire to. U.S. employers are legendarily stingy with paid leave. And if you're starting your career, scraping by financially, or just took a massive VC check, then leisurely breaks are not realistic.
But, according to a piece last year by Jackie Lam for the Freelance Creative, for some other people, building sabbaticals into your year may be more doable than you imagine.
Lam talks to self-employed folks who have decided to only work a 10-month year. Her subjects range from writers who set aside time for several weeks-long retreats, to a podcaster who stops work completely from Thanksgiving through New Year's.
What all of them have in common is that they thoughtfully look at the ebb and flow of their client work and their personal productivity, and intentionally carve out long breaks to rest and recharge.
(Check out Lam's piece if you're interested in more details of their various setups.)
All report being more successful (and saner) overall for it. The ability to take long breaks off to refill your motivational tank and think deeply can help you be more productive during the months you are working.
"Breaks give me the energy and inspiration to take steps forward," founder Amanda Castleman tells Lam.
A more up-and-down rhythm to work may also align better with seasonal variations that are deeply woven into the human mind.
As I've written before, anthropology suggests that for much of our history, humans alternated between seasons of settled farming and seasons of nomadic hunting and gathering.
Modern people may have inherited a propensity for our ancestors' cycles of exploitation and exploration, settled industriousness and wandering curiosity.
Or, in plain language, if you just can't seem to take your mind off the beach all summer (or feel like hibernating with a pile of books all January), maybe you should run with that.
Resetting your weekly schedule is one way to do that. But consciously redesigning your yearly schedule can be an even more effective route to joy and success.
7 other things worth knowing today
A neo-Nazi who allegedly joined the U.S. Army in order to kill American soldiers and expressed solidarity with al Qaeda was sentenced to 45 years for plotting a mass murder while troops were on a mission in Turkey. (Task & Purpose)
France was partly brought to a standstill on Tuesday as millions of protesters took to the streets in one of the biggest strike actions yet. Main issue: the government’s proposed pension reform bill, which includes raising the legal retirement age from 62 to 64. (France 24)
A former Mexican beauty queen and her Romanian-Dutch partner were sentenced to four years in prison for an audacious heist which saw them pose as high-end diners to steal $1.7 million worth of wine. Priscila Guevara, 28, and Constantín Dumitru, 49, were sentenced Monday for the 2021 plot which saw them book a 14-course meal from the Atrio hotel in the Spanish city of Cáceres, per local media. (Insider)
Walmart announced its plan to close its final two locations in Portland, Ore., at the end of March following underwhelming financial results, amid speculation that shoplifting spurred the decision. The closures, which will result in nearly 600 employees being laid off, come after a statement by Walmart CEO Doug McMillion in December 2022 noting that record-breaking retail theft had undercut the company’s economic performance of late. (National Review)
Two of the four Americans who were shot at by gunmen and kidnapped shortly after crossing the border into northern Mexico for a medical procedure last week are dead, and the two survivors are back on American soil, Mexican and U.S. officials said Tuesday. The AP also has a story on medical tourism, which is apparently what led the four to Tamaulipas to begin with. (NBC News, AP)
The cell phone turned 40 years old this week. I mentioned recently the regrets that the inventor, Martin Cooper, has expressed about privacy. But let's be honest: chances are about 85 percent of you are reading this on its descendent, the smartphone! (Retro Daze)
CNBC does these stories sometimes, and I find them interesting—behind the scenes with someone who has an unusual job. In this case: a 31-year veteran conductor on the New York City subway: "You do your whole life down here, and it’s a wonderful thing." (CNBC)
Thanks for reading. Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash. Jess wrote about this at Inc.com. See you in the comments.
As a massage therapist who treats people with chronic pain, I need to find balance in my job. I tried taking a two week hiatus initially, but found my clients were significantly worse off and I had to work harder when I returned. So I implemented a week’s vacation every 6 weeks. This worked out much better. But now in my 70’s, I take a week off every 5 weeks. My clients are fine with that, so I get 10 weeks vacation each year and my body gets the downtime it needs to rejuvenate.
There is actually a substantial group of Americans who follow the 10 months work/2 months off schedule: people in the education field. It has its perks such as being with one’s kids during summer or pursing uninterrupted personal/professional interests but also it can mean having to budget finances to regularly cover two months without active paycheck as well as stricter requirements for time off during those 10 months.