Blake Snow

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The secret to life is working to death, experts say

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

PROVO, Ut. — Want to get ahead in this world? Work lots of extra hours — even nights and weekends — experts say, and it will all be worth your while.

“It’s easy to forget what’s most important in life,” says Bill Loney, a certified life coach who hasn’t quite made it in life yet. “Family, friends, and social activities that can often inspire and enrich the life of an individual… these are all distractions in getting more work done,” he adds.

Emma Royds, who hasn’t stopped looking at her smartphone every five minutes for three straight years, councils that most people actually die wishing they had spent more time — not less — working. “People never regret working too much,” she says. “My neighbor opted to do adventurous, social, and fitness-related activities with family and friends in his spare time.

“Now 80, he told me recently he really wishes he would have spent more time on TPS cover sheets, obsessively trying to turn his company into the next big thing, and reading email during every waking hour of his life. It’s kind of sad, really.”

A common criticism of working an unnecessary or ego-driven number of hours is that it strains relationships at home, including ones with spouses, children, or even neglected pets. “I’ll admit, my dog doesn’t look at me the same way he used to,” says Ty Coon, who works an average of 80 hours a week on the Internet doing who knows what. “But in between sleep, feeding myself, and basic hygiene, I’m not far from achieving my fifteen minutes of fame. What’s more important than that?”

When asked about the excessive time he spends in his virtual office, Seth Poole says he’ll become a well-rounded individual later in life, “once he gets all the fires put out at work.” (Editor’s note: Poole isn’t actually a firefighter, he just uses that analogy to imply that he’s doing really important work from his cubicle, even though he’s really just managing the demands of coworkers, vendors, and clients.)

In fact, researchers at the University of Phoenix have found that Americans who work extra hours at the start or middle of their careers are more than capable of cutting back in latter years, even without some sort of family crises, major illness, or death of a loved one. “A common misconception is that work-a-holics are incapable of returning to a more sustainable workload after a focused and intense period of work,” explains Dr. Robert Fallis.

“Although consumed by work,” he adds, “almost all of the individuals I’ve studied maintained full control throughout their careers and didn’t feel apprehensive or counter-productive at all when going from an unhealthy 14 hour work day to a more manageable eight hour day. In a mid-life about face, most of them just say, ‘Okay, I’m no longer going to let work define me. I’m going to become a balanced and interesting person again.’ It really is as easy as flipping a light switch,” the Dr. maintains.

Darren Deeds, who sends emails as early as 4am and as late as 2am twice on Sunday, says another benefit of working excessive hours is that it makes you the life of the party. “It’s a lot of fun to hang out with people who work 24/7,” he asserts, pointing back to himself with two thumbs and a wide grin. “I mean, being able to laugh and carry on a conversation about new ideas, culture, and life’s idiosyncrasies is nice and all. But who doesn’t love talking to someone who always mentions how busy or tired they are. Or how important they are at work. Or how they don’t have time for anything else. It’s great.”

Not only that, but The League of Perpetually Unsatisfied Adults says that spare time may actually be overrated. “A lot of people ask me: ‘What’s the point of living if work depletes all your free time?’ or ‘Shouldn’t technology help reduce the burden of work so we can enjoy more time with friends and family?'” recounts league spokesman Chuck Farley.

“My answer is always the same,” says Farley, “You can’t arrive in life or provide your family with things they never really asked for with ‘leisure.’ Excessive work is the only way to make it in this world. By the sweat of thy brow—not only all the days of your life, but every waking hour of it. Not being able to enjoy the spoils of work is besides the point.”

More important, however, is that up-and-coming generations not come off as old fashioned, says Becca Pritchards, a lifestyle and status consultant from North Dakota. “Not long ago, people would put in an honest day’s work five times a week without checking Facebook or YouTube every five minutes, and then actually rest from their labors on night and weekends,” Pritchards says while scoffing at the notion.

“Nowadays, we do less work across a much longer and inefficient work week. It really is the best of both worlds.”

This story first published to in fall 2011. 

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