Three-day weekends: so fleeting, so valuable

Marc Lalonde
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Summer's debut is often so busy there's no time to stop and count blessings

You're probably reading this in the middle of a few well-deserved days off in between St. Jean Baptiste Day and Canada Day; many, many Quebecers take advantage of the statutory holidays scheduled within a week of each other to avail themselves of some time off without using quite as many valuable vacation days. Those are the smart - and fortunate - ones. Those of us that are at the office picking up the slack are the ones cramming 10 days of work into eight scheduled days in the name of spending those two extra, glorious, days in the sun, doing whatever. The three-day weekend is so magical, it sort of makes me wonder why we don't do it every weekend!

Let's look at it from a practical standpoint; those of us with children will be able to actually spend time with them instead of racing to work, racing home, racing to make dinner, racing to get the kids out the door to their evening events and racing to bed, only to do it all again the next morning.

Those of us without children could take extra time to concentrate on hobbies, fitness, sports or whatever other grand passion interests them. Art, culture, photography, writing and philosophy could come back into vogue - if people had time to devote to such endeavours.

If three-day work weekends were the norm, the argument goes, the economy would suffer. If people only worked four days a week, the productivity of offices would decline. I disagree, respectfully. The employees in those offices would be happier and more engaged with an entire extra day to themselves and would likely do their jobs with more gusto and enthusiasm, knowing they have to squeeze an extra day's work out of the downtime they otherwise enjoy.

On top of that, a three-day weekend would help drive revenues for retail businesses, giving people the chance to actually think about how to spend their money, rather than rushing to the grocery store for a few minutes at the end of a busy day to kill more time waiting in a line, then waiting in traffic and waiting to lose your mind.

It's a topic that's worth a modicum of consideration as many of us take a few minutes to  relax and pause for breath in the unimaginable rat-race that the working world has become for many. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. E-mail and smartphones have ensured that those of us who have become slaves to electronic communications - think pretty much every Canadian over the age of 12 - are reachable every minute of every day.

That alone should serve as justification for imposition of mandatory three-day weekends. Before those of you among the readership who love being at the office slam this column for being unrealistic, consider that for many, the working day is seven hours long, with gusts to eight or nine. That's the max most of us are paid for the jobs we do - and yet, many of us are answering calls after hours, working more when we're technically off the clock and slowly killing ourselves and our families.

Three-day weekends - they're great, and they ought to be every weekend - if only to protect us from ourselves.

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