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Some good advice but a lot of the book is based ...
on 26 July 2014
Some good advice but a lot of the book is based on numbers that don't always add up.
For example, she rarely mentions the time spent commuting to work. Yet, for most people in large cities, it takes up at least 2 hours a day and this can hardly be thought of as "personal time" (yes, you can read a book but doing any kind of thinking is difficult + you won't be able to read 100% of the time, due to transfers, being packed like sardines on a train, unbearable heat on a train or platform, unbearable cold waiting for a bus outside etc).
In a similar manner, she rarely mentions the half hour or hour lunch break. In most companies, workers have few options and find themselves eating at their desk or queueing at a packed sandwich shop. Again, this isn't personal time.
Therefore, the reality for most people who work 8 hours a day in the office is that it takes up 11 hours of their time, leaving them with far less time for them to use freely than the author reckons someone working 40 hours a week has. She regularly dismisses those who claim we need more work/life balance and accuses them of misleading people, and while I completely agree that a lot of time spent at "work" is wasted and not really work, I feel that she misunderstands the situation for most office workers in large cities (the environment I know). Yes, they have free time, probably more than they think they have (her argument), but not quite as much time for them to shape that she says they have.
Another example of dubious maths is the example of Berkeley Tandem. The author says that the owner increased her working hours from 20 to 30 hours a week, meaning a 50% increase, and the business revenue jumped by 30%. This in the chapter about working up to the point of diminishing returns. Now, if the original revenue wasn't enough for the business owner to live on then it makes sense to work 50% more to boost it by 30%, but if it was a revenue she could live on, then it doesn't seem very efficient to me to work 50% more to earn only 30% more (seems like the point of diminishing returns has indeed been reached!).