Cafe Witness

Friday, July 28, 2006

This Is the Shift That Never Ends...

I mistakenly overheard one of the baristas at Crazy Mocha telling a friend that she'd be here until one. That was around 3 PM, and I thought, "Who schedules someone for a twelve-hour shift at a coffee shop?" It turns out she said "since one," but it got me thinking...

Who decided that 8 hours was the optimal workday?

Now that lunch hours take up precious time in the middle of the day, 9 hours is the norm, but still... how is the world expected to maintain top-level focus all at once for 8 or 9 hours a day?

When I was a DJ at a college radio station in Erie, I volunteered for three straight 3-hour shifts on Thursdays. I referred to it as my "blood drive." Usually by the end of the gig I was punchy from having to be witty and entertaining, much less playing music and public service announcements on cue (we had none of these fancy automated systems), for 9 straight hours.

That's probably why the average on-air radio shift lasts about 4 hours. Even if a DJ is in the building for 8 or 9 hours, it usually involves recording promotions and commercials and such, so there's a variety of work involved; who can stay fresh on their feet for 9 hours?

Which brings me to... the modern workday. How much work do you get done in the average 24-hour period? How much of that is done at work? How much of that takes place between 8 and 5?

How much better would the world work if everyone worked at their own pace? I understand the Europeans are more productive than we Americans are, and they work fewer hours per week AND take longer vacations.

What are we doing wrong?

(And why have I been sitting in this cafe for 3 hours now with nothing to show for it? Focus, people: that's what's lacking...)


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