The importance of having free time is still often ignored. As you get older and, if you are lucky, roll into a full time job, the time that you can spend freely dwindles. There are those that have more than one part time job just to get by, and getting from one to the next rarely feels like taking a break. When people do have some free time, they use it to make up for the time they spent at work. So they fill it with chores and social calls, often driven by a sense of guilt. This alone time that is now spent on matters that otherwise would not always have made the to do-list is not time that is spent freely.

People go from having lots of time in college, to having none at all post college. This can be a hard pill to swallow. The joy of having found and then landed a job often recedes when you leaf through your contract and stop at where it says how many vacation days you are aloud to take. Those precious few days that are entirely yours and not your bosses’. For people that have their own business, this can be an even tougher nut to crack. Most of the time, there is no locking up the office at 5pm, because the office is a smartphone or laptop that is always blasting incoming emails at you. A client you do not want to lose will make it harder for you shutting down your laptop and calling it a day, and you often find yourself working unpaid hours.

Ultimately, those that work for a boss may have it the best. But there is a lot that an employer can do to ease the stress of his employees and offer a more healthy work environment. First of all, the absence of free time stands in the way of the chance to relax body and soul through exercise, and hereby to perform better at work. Your boss should give you this because in the end it will be in his favor too. A mentally and physically healthy employee will be able to learn faster and be more productive. Secondly, he should make sure you do not have to work overtime because the workload is too heavy, and most importantly, he will make sure not to bother you in your free time and recognize that there exists a you that is different from the one he knows at work. The world will be a better place.

People did use to work longer hours, when there were no laws curtailing them. But they had steadier jobs, and often worked at one company all their lives. Nowadays, companies will ship their whole operation overseas to places like China and Vietnam, if they smell any opportunity to keep more of their money. This creates a fear that you can lose your job any minute, and the only way to keep it is to enslave yourself to a company. But even though a steady job gives people a purpose, sense of direction and way to make a living, to hand over more and more of your personal life is a bad thing. Because what happens when a person forfeits his or her free time? Life gets a helluva lot more boring. Every task will start to feel menial, and creativity slowly withers and dies. People gradually lose a part of themselves, a part of their personality. Any eccentricities of a former life dissipate, and the spontaneity that was is now replaced by a full schedule. One with always a menial task ahead, or right around the corner. Many students live like adults with children now, holding agendas without any space left in them.

Most jobs don’t give maximum fulfillment. Often they are only a way to pay bills, or appreciated for the fact that they offer a comfortable social circle to move in and out of. So people should be given the opportunity to discover their creative side, and develop the part of them that is not all about work. If, by any chance, you want to make a change in life, the only way to discover you will want to is when you have some time on your hands to travel and discover the world. It helps with understanding man’s place in it, and figuring out if the place you live in is actually where you want to be. Working nine to five has a way of dulling the senses, and forces you to fall in line with a certain work culture that is like an increasingly tightening noose around your neck, slowly choking the life out of you.

A factor why people are so enjoined with their smartphones is because it offers them a quick way out of the dullness of a situation. It offers constant excitement, and lets the mind wander off to another place. If we do not offer people a certain amount of free time in their lives to lay bare their skills in music, writing or the arts, then there will be no one left to create those things we as people love to consume most. I feel that people have so much more to offer to the world if they would have a little time off from the everyday scramble for a paycheck. At the other end, people without jobs and with lots of free time are in a constant struggle for money. This has a very negative effect on their emotional wellbeing, and while these emotions can be put into a story or song, the first thing on their mind will always be how to fill their bellies. I am not saying that everyone should get a certain amount of money from the government to sit around all day doing nothing. People should have a purpose. But they need to find that purpose. It is the responsibility of people themselves to find a purpose greater than hopping from paycheck to paycheck, and transcend the life they are leading. Getting rid of everything menial people do outside of work is a good first step. Step two is spending more time alone.

Another consequence of the lack of free time is that people make mistakes when they do not take their time to think stuff through. Any kind of decision and its success is dependent on the time you have spent to think it through. Wrong decisions can have a nasty effect for an important question like what to study in college. This is something the French know how to do better: They work for a maximum of 36 hours per week, and are not even allowed to work more. It is an equilibrium the French hold dear, and it has quite a few advantages. The advantage for the body and soul is that they seem a lot more relaxed and chilled, and may have found the perfect balance between work and play. They do not overdo play as in the Southern countries, nor work nearly as hard as the Germans. But they do enjoy life and it shows. So do like the French, and be a little more zen.