Belated happy new year. Hope you had a good Christmas. Today is supposedly Blue Monday. Worst day of the year. The day when Christmas seems oh so very far away but the bills to pay for it have all come in. Spring seems aeons away and there’s nothing to look forward to save damp and cold weather for the next six to eight weeks. (This just applies to the UK and northern Europe. If you live in sunny California, obviously you don’t have cold, damp weather to worry about…)
I am cheerful though on this bluest of Mondays. And while I wouldn’t DREAM of telling you that you should be too, here’s why. Christmas is over – YAY! And I survived it entirely unscathed despite Not Doing It. I was afraid I’d get the post-Christmas blues even though I didn’t really keep it. Didn’t happen. Hasn’t happened. I can now be merry in December without keeping this most bullying of all holidays.
Working in an office
I’ve also been working in an office again for a few weeks. I am loving it. And I think that too might be why I didn’t get the post-Christmas blues. I had an office to go back to. Whereas usually I just go back to… well, nothing much changes really! When you’re a home worker you’re always at work. No complaints but it’s nice to have a change from that. We all need change and isn’t that what January is supposed to be about.
Don’t diet in January
And since this is a diet blog – supposedly – I better mention them. Don’t do it in January. Don’t go dry either – pubs need your custom. And why make a blue month for many even bluer and tougher to handle? No, save the new you for March when Spring starts. Besides don’t most people still have calorie-laden food lying around from Christmas that they need to eat up? Always struck me as ridiculous – you too? – that one minute you’re being urged to splurge and binge and the next starve yourself and stop splurging!
Well don’t let advertisers and de meeejah tell you what to do or how to feel. Dieting in January never works. It’s too gloomy, dark, dismal and depressing, for many at least.
Still on the subject of food one thing I’ve noticed is how offices have changed since I first worked in them in – eeeek! – 1972. (I began work at three, obviously). Whereas kitchens were merely functional places people made tea and coffee and that was it, now they come fully equipped with everything you’ve got at home. Coffee maker, full-sized ‘fridge, microwave, toaster and some places even have a dining room too!
Why is this? Because we work much longer days than we did when I began work is my theory. My working day in the 70s may have begun promptly at nine but it ended at five and everyone took a lunch hour. Was unusual not to go for lunch or to work late. Also many larger companies provided subsidised canteens and/or luncheon vouchers. Luncheon vouchers – now THERE’S a blast from the past. How many of my readers have a clue what they are? Or have heard of a staff canteen?
Once employers didn’t just provide food vouchers or a canteen – they also provided free training. They took care of their staff in return for loyalty. Now you’re expected, by many employers, to be loyal without getting much in return, not even a guarantee of remaining employed. You’re supposed to be flexible while the employer can be as inflexible as they like.
So no more staff canteen or vouchers but you’re expected at many places not to have a lunch break. And this is really why many employers now provide equipped kitchens and seating areas. At Bloomberg they offer a full array of services you might need – even tampons and a free dry cleaning service. But as one disgruntled employee once confessed to me, “It’s only because they don’t want us to leave the building.”
Why we work longer days
Do our longer working days (there’s no such thing as a long hour!) make us more productive or just more present? My theory is that working days have got longer not because we’re doing or achieving more but because computers add so much time to our everyday tasks.
In much the same way cars were forever breaking down in the 70s, so now instead computers crash, freeze or add minutes to every task you do. They can’t be relied upon so during the course of your working day they add at least an extra hour or even two. They will ALWAYS slow you down, do something you didn’t want them to while never doing everything you DO want them to. Even cars that are 15 or 20 years old start first go now (NEVER happened in the 70s with old cars) and hardly ever break down. Computers do all the time. Or the internet goes down. Or the connection is sluggish.
My hairdresser now uses a computer to register bookings. Takes three times as long as writing it down in a ledger did. Ditto the last time I booked into a hotel. Oh sorry, computer appears to be running slow. I sighed. The desk clerk sighed. Our eyes met and we both said the same thing at the same time. “Was so much quicker when all you had to do was write it down.”
Have a good Monday – hope it’s not blue! – and a great week.