Encroaching work demands—coupled with domestic chores, overbooked schedules, and the incessant pinging of our devices—have taken a toll on what used to be our free time: the weekend. With no space to tune out and recharge, every aspect of our lives is suffering: our health is deteriorating, our social networks (the face-to-face kind) are dissolving, and our productivity is down. The notion of working less and living more, once considered an American virtue, has given way to the belief that you must be “on” 24/7.
Award-winning journalist Katrina Onstad, pushes back against this all-work, no-fun ethos. Tired of suffering from Sunday night letdown, she digs into the history, positive psychology, and cultural anthropology of the great missing weekend and how we can revive it.
Onstad follows the trail of people, companies, and countries who are vigilantly protecting their time off for joy, adventure, and most important, purpose. Filled with personal and professional inspiration, The Weekend Effect is a thoughtful, well-researched argument to take back those precious 48 hours, and ultimately, to save ourselves.
Journalist and novelist Onstad (Everybody Has Everything) makes a compelling but flawed case for the need for leisure. The book begins with a bit of history, explaining the differences between contemporary and pre industrial revolution conceptions of leisure. Onstad's tone is hopeful as she details the benefits of longer weekends for both work and workers. The book explores how companies such as Basecamp and Amazon are attempting to implement shorter work weeks and encourage employees to disconnect on weekends. The section that details good ways to fill in leisure time including art, nature, and volunteering is encouraging, but the book doesn't adequately address the role of class. Early on, Onstad reveals that white-collar workers work more than their blue-collar counterparts, a "leisure gap" that shouldn't be "trivialized" according to the writer. Though it's fair to say that weekends and leisure are a "cross-class" issue, the book never addresses whether less work for people who make less money and have unstable hours actually translates into more leisure. A passage on the importance of work/life balance to the social fabric is powerful, but too brief. The need for leisure is a worthwhile subject, but Onstad's book, while a good start, is ultimately a superficial survey of the issue.