Posted by Tim Stobbs on June 25, 2008
Well as I get back into work I’m using my lunch break to finally get caught up on my blog reading. Then I found this great post from FT called Cats in the Cradle, Money and Family which just cried out for a entire reply post.
Beyond being an excellent post the one thing that made my jaw drop is that FT spends at least 70 hours a week working between his day job and an online venture. Before kids, ok it is your life, do what you want. After kids, FT I have to ask, are you CRAZY?!?!
Speaking as a father of two myself I can’t imagine spending that much time on work related tasks. First a little math to show how insane this is. First off a 7 day week has 168 hours in it. Take off at least 6 hours a day for sleeping and that leaves 126 hours a week. Then using FT’s minimum of 70 hours means FT is spending 55% of his waking hours working (and that is not assuming a lot of sleep either).
I work 37.5 hours a week and even if you include all the time I spend on this blog writing I would guess I spend less than 45 hours a week doing anything that resembles work. The rest of my time is mine and I defend it rather strongly. I hate overtime and only do the bare amount required when I’m know a we are facing a tight deadline.
Perhaps my views come from my own father who is currently wrapping up his career at the ripe old age of 57. He spend most of his working career putting his family ahead of his career. He could have easily been a VP of his company years ago, but he didn’t want that. It was too much time for the pay and even now he is going to retire early soon to spend more time with his grandchildren. I grew up in a house where family is first and there really isn’t any idea of putting money ahead of family. Money is only a tool and if my father can put his family first and still retire at 57 why can’t I put my family first and do it at 45 with a little smart planning?
I’ve also watched other people his age working. They gave it all to their jobs and frankly aren’t much further ahead financially speaking. It’s a devil of a deal. You don’t have to work 20 hours a week in overtime to get ahead. Because often getting ahead means a ‘good house’ (read big with high taxes) and two vehicles because they have no time together with their family to drive anywhere. Then people feel guilty and they take their kids on nice trips and get them cool toys in an effort to replace their presence with stuff. People like this end of poor in the things that matter most: love and happiness and don’t have a lot of extra money, just stuff.
I love my kids. They are amazing expressions of the world of life. They are happy, resilient and loved. They know without a doubt they are the most important things in my world (right after my wife). I won’t give up enjoying watching them grow for a mountain of gold so why would I cheapen that expression by putting in more time to do a job than is required.
It’s not to say you can’t do a good job and still have a family life. The trick is to work smarter and not harder on things. Do what matters most and let the little stuff slide. Replying to ‘thanks’ emails is a waste of time so don’t bother. Return the important calls first and then put together a pile of little stuff to discuss with others all at once.
So in the end I propose this. If FT was questioning the amount of time he worked, I suspect he already knows the answer that he should face. You are working too much. It’s time to cut back. Life is about living, despite all our writing about money, it’s just paper with ink on it.