No Time to Lose: A Search for Work / Life Balance

CSLS releases study on happiness of Canadians by notimetolose
November 29, 2010, 10:57 am
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Notice of Release, November 23, 2010

Does Money Matter? Evidence Shows that Mental and Physical Health, Stress, and Sense of Belonging Trump Income as Determinants of the Happiness of Canadians

The Centre for the Study of Living Standards (CSLS) released today a major study on factors influencing the happiness or life satisfaction of Canadians. The report, prepared in partnership with the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity (ICP), was based on data for 70,000 Canadians from Statistics Canada’s Community Health Survey.  It provides a comprehensive analysis of the happiness landscape in Canada, quantifies the many variables that determine happiness, and explains the variation in happiness across provinces, CMAs and health regions.

The key findings of the study are highlighted below.

·         There is relatively little variation in average happiness in Canada both over time and across space. In 2009, 92.1 per cent of the population 12 and over reported that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their lives, compared to 91.4 per cent in 2008, 91.9 per cent in 2007, 91.8 per cent in 2005, and 91.3 per cent in 2003. Based on a scale of 1 to 5, the average level of happiness of the Canadian population 20 and over in 2007-8 was 4.26.

·         At the provincial level, life satisfaction ranged from a high of 4.33 in Prince Edward Island to a low of 4.23 in Ontario, a total range of 0.10 points (2.5 per cent) out of a potential maximum variation of four points. At the level of the 32 CMAs, average happiness ranged from a high of 4.37 in Sherbrooke, Quebec, to a low of 4.15 in Toronto, Ontario, a range of 0.22 points or 5.5 per cent. At the level of the 121 health regions, average happiness ranged from a high of 4.42 in Kings County, Prince Edward Island to a low of 4.12 in the City of Toronto Health Unit, a range of 0.30 points or 7.5 per cent.

·         A one-unit increase in perceived mental health (measured on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 is poor mental health and 5 is excellent mental health) raises the proportion of individuals that are very satisfied with life by 17.0 percentage points. Said another way, the effect for the average person of a one-unit increase in mental health on happiness is equivalent to the effect of a 309 per cent increase in household income on happiness.

·         Perceived health status was also an economically significant determinant of happiness. A one-unit increase in health status increases the proportion of individuals that are very satisfied with life by 8.8 percentage points. Such a change is equivalent to a 157 per cent increase in household income.

·         High levels of stress level were associated with lower life satisfaction. Specifically, a one-unit increase in stress (measured on a 5-point scale) decreases the proportion of individuals that are very satisfied by 7.7 percentage points. In terms of household income, this is equivalent to the effect of a 136 per cent decrease on happiness for the average person.

·         An individual’s sense of belonging to their local community was also an important determinant of individual life satisfaction. A one-unit increase in sense of belonging (measured on a 4-point scale) increases the proportion of individuals that are very satisfied with life by 6.5 percentage points. Relative to the effect of household income, such a change is equivalent to a 116 per cent increase in income for the average person.

·         Unemployment had a negative impact on people’s happiness. Relative to household income, moving from unemployment to employment has the same impact on happiness as a 151 per cent increase in income for the average person.

·         Although household income was statistically significant at the one per cent level, it carries less economic significance for happiness than the variables highlighted above. Specifically, a ten per cent increase in household income from the mean increases the proportion of individuals that are very satisfied with life by only 0.6 percentage points.

·         Geographical variation in happiness in Canada arises for two main sources: differences in the means of variables associated with life satisfaction and the importance of those variables in the life satisfaction regressions. Although sense of belonging was not the most economically significant variable in our models of life satisfaction, the variation in this variable across geographical units was quite large and this factor was key to explaining regional differences in happiness.

The report provides strong support for the 2009 Stiglitz report commissioned by French President Nicholas Sarkozy that recommended greater emphasis be placed on happiness relative to GDP in the development of public policy.

To address this emerging issue of the role of happiness in public policy, the CSLS and the ICP are organizing a conference on this topic in Ottawa on December 1, 2010. Speakers include John Helliwell, Don Drummond, Mel Cappe, and Alan Nymark.

The program is posted here. To register, click here.

For additional information, please contact:
Andrew Sharpe
Executive Director
Centre for the Study of Living Standards
111 Sparks Street, Suite 500
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5B5
Fax: 613-233-8250

“Vijay Monany on fascinating work instead of retirement” by notimetolose
September 10, 2010, 1:08 pm
Filed under: ideas, news articles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

There is nothing enlightened about this proposal and the ulterior motive is remarkably transparent.

Why on earth should people be enticed to continue generating profit for others through their labour? Indeed, wages continue to fall despite profits in a number of sectors (mainly banks). Much work is also related to continuing the ecologically destructive cycle of consumption.

People should have the chance to pursue their own range of  interests without external pressures such as bosses, sales quotas, meetings, deadlines, or overtaxing workloads due to reduced staffing. Furthemrore, people should be bal eto pursue their own interests withou being a slave to economic interest as defined by others.

Reposted from: euro|topics 09/09/2010

Le Monde – France
Vijay Monany on fascinating work instead of retirement
If the French have recently striked and demonstrated en masse against the government’s plan to raise the retirement age to 62, it’s because their working environment doesn’t offer them all it should, writes Vijay Monany from the management consulting firm Khampus in the daily Le Monde: “The reason why the French prefer retirement to work is exactly the same as why they prefer holidays to work. … They are bored by their work, and they develop their interests outside of work. The real paradox is that it’s only when they retire that people feel their life is starting, that they can take control of their destiny and read, travel, follow their interests, or spend time with their friends. … One day we’ll understand that social progress does not consist in stringing together weeks of holiday, reducing the number of working hours or lowering the retirement age. One day we will understand that true progress consists in making work so interesting that there will be no difference between it and leisure time. One day we’ll see that the solution to pension reform consists in rendering work so fascinating that no one wants to retire.” (08/09/2010)
» full article (external link, French)
More from the press review on the subject » Trade unions, » Social affairs, » Labour, » France
All available articles from » Vijay Monany

Calling All American Citizens by notimetolose

The following message has just arrived from Take Back Your Time, the work/life balance advocacy group in the United States. Please read and, if you are an American Citizen, please take action!

Dear Take Back Your Time Supporter



As you may know, on May 21st, Congressman Alan Grayson introduced H.R. 2564, The Paid Vacation Act of 2009. With other TAKE BACK YOUR TIME board members Joe Robinson and Bill Doherty, I spoke at the news conference introducing the bill. We were joined by economist John Schmitt, family practice doctor Arnold Pallay, and simple living advocate Wanda Urbanska, in addition to Congressman Grayson himself.

We understand that this bill is much more modest than what TAKE BACK YOUR TIME originally called for, yet is in a hugely important step in the right direction and we urge you to support it now. You can let Congress know if you think it should be strengthened, but please register your support for the bill. A full explanation of the bill and rebuttals of the main opposition arguments can now be found on our Web site at:

Or just go to and check out the second item in BREAKING NEWS.




You will need to enter your zip code.




Make your letter or email as personal as possible. Tell your representative why this is important to you. You can draw from the information on our Web site at:


I’m sorry, we’re not equipped to immediate connect you to your representative as many Web sites are. Unfortunately, TAKE BACK YOUR TIME is dancing on the edge of debt. We are funded entirely by members and supporters at this time and our fund are running out just as we are making major strides in helping to achieve vacation legislation and build our National Vacation Matters Summit. We really need your support now. Please make a donation today online at: or by sending a check to CRESP/TAKE BACK YOUR TIME at

PO BOX 19852

In these hard economic times, your fully tax-deductible donation is needed more than ever. PLEASE DONATE TODAY!

For more information, don’t hesitate to email me at

Act now! There’s no present like the time!

Thank you for all you do,

John de Graaf
Executive Director

Paycations? by notimetolose
May 25, 2009, 9:31 pm
Filed under: news articles | Tags: , , , ,

Oh no…

What a world we live that this article, found at, is pushing the “hip new trend” of working multiple jobs, not because someone needs to in order to get by, but because its a savvy thing to do.

At least the final line suggests this might all be quite ridiculous…

But what about the under 50 set that feels increasing pressure to network and build capacity at *all* times, just to have some chance of finding work after their contract expire, or their company lays them off to increase profit margins?

Not good.


Is it time for a paycation?

A new trend is to use vacation days from one job to work at another.
But is your time worth the extra cash?

Tired of travel buzzwords? Here’s one you might like the sound of: paycation.

This year, instead of spending on a trip or sticking close to home some people will use their vacation time from their main job to earn some extra cash at a second one.

Others will keep right on working and give up their holiday time altogether — if their company will pay out for those unused vacation days.

So what’s the scoop? You won’t find a lot of information or statistics about paycations — they’re essentially grouped in with “second jobs”.

In the U.S., the number of people who picked up second jobs rose to 5.5 per cent of the population in 2008, according to a post on Consumer Reports. More than one quarter of people working a second job are doing so to pay off debts, while more than a third are doing it for the extra money.

And where are the opportunities? Don’t get your hopes up too high — According to Consumer Reports, most of the secondary jobs are in health and education services, leisure and hospitality and retail. Many paycation opportunities are likely to be summer camps, working at a local restaurant or hotel or selling goods in a local shop.

However, with a week or two off work there’s an opportunity for professionals to make use of their skills in other arenas, such as:

  • Teaching a class or course (whether it’s just a day or a week-long course)
  • Picking up some freelance or consulting work in their field.
  • Launching a home business, website or blog.
  • Working on money-earning hobbies.

But is it worth your time? Here are some things to consider:


  • Build your network. Networking is one of the “must do” activities for professional development, especially in a time when many people find themselves in a precarious job situation. A new position means you’ll come into contact with new people and form new connections that will be mutually beneficial later on.
  • Focus on professional development. Develop new skills, learn about another business or industry and beef up your resume. There’s something to learn from any new job or experience you take, and you can apply job-specific skills and transferable skills to your current job.
  • Build your portfolio. Skills are nice, but so is proof of what you can accomplish. Our regular jobs can box us into certain responsibilities and target audiences. In order to have a balanced portfolio of work, you may need to get beyond your regular job to show off other assets.
  • Start something big. Picking up some consulting or freelance work can turn into a long-term money-maker as a home business or “on the side” work.
  • And perhaps the most obvious benefit: Extra cash. For many people, it means a boost to their savings or an investment in home renovations. It might pay for a vacation later on, and help pay down some debt.


  • Additional job stress. Taking a break from work (whether you travel or not) provides some much needed respite and relaxation which is good for your health. On the other hand, skipping your holidays won’t give you a break from the stress, which can contribute to job burnout.
  • Chances are you’ll also have to deal with learning new skills and working with new people in a short period of time — which can cause tension.
  • Fewer opportunities for stress management. In addition, you may find yourself with less time to spend on hobbies, fitness and other activities that are necessarily for managing stress and leading a healthy lifestyle.
  • Personal sacrifices. More time working means less time with your family and friends. You can’t put a price tag on that time, or “buy it back”.
  • The jobs aren’t good enough. Networking and professional development are worthwhile goals, but many paycation opportunities aren’t the high-level positions many people are seeking. Many people find greater fulfillment by giving away their time for free — and volunteer and service-oriented vacations are taking off as a result.
  • More money for the government, not for you. Who else are you subsidizing with your extra hours? Taxes and other work-related expenses may eat into your earnings.

If you decide to try it

Thinking of giving it a shot? Here are some other steps to weigh in:

  • Look at your current income and crunch some numbers. In some cases, that extra cash might alter your tax bracket — meaning you’ll pay more to the government. You might also incur additional costs above and beyond your normal expenses like travel costs. However, if you’re investing more into your RRSP or TFSA, you’ll see some pay-offs in the future.
  • Review your current contract to make sure there aren’t any conflicts. Some companies prohibit their employees from taking on outside work in their field, and working for a competitor is definitely a no-no. Make sure your paycation job doesn’t violate the terms of your current contract, and that there’s no conflict of interest involved.
  • Know what you’re getting into. Find out the details of what the time commitment will be, and what duties or projects you’ll be responsible for. Ask what will happen if the position runs over it’s projected time and you have to go back to work. (And get the details in writing too).
  • Watch out for scams. Employment scams are popular in these tough times. Learn as much as you can about the company and the opportunity, and be sceptical of too-good-to-be-true offers. Be very cautious about when and to whom you give out personal information. (For more tips, see Avoid online employment scams).
  • Be wary of the word “paycation” : it’s commonly used to promote travel clubs and network marketing businesses (e.g. setting up your own online travel agency). Many of these schemes involve selling travel through a website you pay to set up and maintain, as well as recruiting others and selling the business opportunity to them. (If you’re interested those offers, do your research and carefully evaluation any opportunities — especially whether or not they’re legal in your area due to travel industry regulations).
  • Work your network. Finding a paycation position won’t be easy — unless you know where to look. Draw on your usual job search strategies, especially talking to friends and colleagues. Let people know you are open to a temporary opportunity.

Is a paycation worth pursuing or is it just another passing fad? Ignore the buzzword. Instead, weigh the benefits and pitfalls before agreeing to give up your time (or dismissing the idea altogether).

Source: Consumer Reports