Take Back Your Time – My Book Review and the Movement to Take Back Your Time

The non-profit organization Take Back Your Time exists to tackle what they call the “epidemic of overwork” in the United States and Canada.  Their initiatives address the growing amount of time people spend at work at the expense of everything else in life.  They promote a public policy agenda which should hardly be considered controversial, and as a reader of VacationCounts I hope you agree they are smart work-life and HR benefit policies to ardently push for.

Time To Care Agenda (from TimeDay.org)

  • Guaranteeing paid leave for all parents for the birth or adoption of a child
  • Guaranteeing at least one week of paid sick leave for all workers
  • Guaranteeing at least three weeks of paid annual vacation leave for all workers
  • Placing a limit on the amount of compulsory overtime work that an employer can impose
  • Making Election Day a holiday
  • Making it easier for Americans to choose part-time work

As you can guess I am particularly in favor of at least 3 weeks of vacation, though I would consider it a success if every full-time employee was guaranteed at least 2 weeks of paid time off (PTO) every year. As it stands today, paid vacation that is earned by working full-time or part-time is an optional employment benefit. Companies in the U.S. can choose to offer any amount of PTO or none at all, with no law granting workers the right to vacation days and in stark contrast with an overwhelming majority of countries around the world. Clearly the absence of laws to guarantee time off from work for fun, family, and health reasons, not to mention to take the time to vote in every election, is an ideal that eludes American society.

Besides lobbying for change from workers, employers, and the government, they sponsor Take Back Your Time Day on October 24 each year and publish numerous resources as well as an electronic newsletter (subscribe here).  A branded YouTube channel offers several recorded videos and their creative staff and volunteers have designed dozens of Take Back Your Time posters to spread this important message by employing both seriousness and humor to get the point across.

The primary publication of the Take Back Your Time organization is a book called, you guessed it, Take Back Your Time.  It is referred to as the “Official Handbook of the National Movement” and the goal stated by editor John de Graaf on the cover is “Fighting Overwork and Time Poverty in America.”  I read this book recently on my Android mobile phone using the Amazon Kindle app (an excellent way to build up a virtual bookshelf of books to read on the go) and posted a review to share my thoughts.
Read my full review on Amazon.com

Giving the book the highest rating of 5 stars, I recommend it to business leaders and HR professionals that are interested in all aspects of the work-life balance debate as well as individuals that seek ways to take some/more/better time off from work to improve their life or the lives of others.  Each of the 30 essays are written by experts and grouped into several categories relating the declining work-life balance with its negative effect on our lives, society, health, and the environment.  Of course not every article will resonate with your situation, so flip around and take action to improve the life side of your work-life balance equation or become inspired to get involved with the Take Back Your Time movement to effect change in your local community.

To be clear, I have no relationship with Take Back Your Time and the intent of this blog post is to highlight a non-profit organization fighting for an important cause and to review their comprehensive handbook which successfully sells the importance of sustainable work-life balance and mandated time off benefits.  The core philosophy at VacationCounts remains fulfilling the goal to take more time off from work and finding smart ways to leverage our careers and employ technology to benefit from vacation time for travel, family, and enrichment.

Happy Traveling…