January 17, 2010
This just in: Leaving the office is good for you
I'm feeling peppier at the moment. I'm also feeling more autonomous, better connected to those in my immediate vicinity, and in general, happier. If you're reading this between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon, chances are you are too.
In other words, the weekend effect is upon us.
A study published in the January issue of the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that employed U.S. adults experience "better moods, greater vitality, and fewer aches and pains" on weekends. No matter what our profession -- lawyer, CEO, receptionist, pipefitter -- researchers found that we feel better both physically and mentally on weekends. This goes for men, women, singles, spouses, and folks of all ages, tax brackets, and education levels -- regardless of how many hours a week we work.
Before you discount these findings as the duh heard round the world, hear me out. Some of the results of this study are unexpected and could even come in handy for those trying to convince their employer to grant them flexible work hours or telecommuting privileges.
Besides the less-than-surprising conclusion that free time is good for the soul and overwork is not, researchers found that people feel more competent over the weekend than they do during the workweek. Turns out having more control over our daily schedule makes us feel like we're doing a better job at, well, whatever we're doing, be it cleaning out the garage, weeding the garden, or learning to speak Italian (as opposed to such weekday activities as crunching numbers, leading meetings, and filing TPS reports).
In case anyone was clamoring for scientific data, this correlation between having autonomy in one's daily activities and feeling more competent helps explain why 10.4 million Americans are willing to forsake employer-subsidized health care and paid vacation days in favor of self-employment. Autonomy on the job is not only good for the heart and head, it's a big fat esteem booster.
As for those of you gunning for flexible hours or telecommuting privileges at your current job, you now have one more study to include in that written proposal you've been preparing for your boss. Not only will more control over your schedule make you happier and healthier, it will make you feel more competent on the job and confident about your work. And what boss doesn't want their employees to be at the top of their game?
No word from these weekend effect researchers on what being involuntarily unemployed does to one's mood, energy level, and overall well-being between Friday and Sunday nights. I think we can all take a wild guess, though.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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