We all know that time waits for no man – except in the office, it transpires.
New research from the World Economic Forum has found that women work for 50 minutes longer than their male counterparts each day, meaning that the gender pay gap has no hope of closing for another 170 years. All these additional weekly hours of keyboard-bashing equate to 39 days of fee-free work each year for women – which, sadly, look unlikely to be offered up as an impromptu sabbatical.
If gender equality at work will take nearly two centuries to materialize, perhaps it’s time we start clawing back those precious minutes we’ve been so wantonly contributing and put them to use a little differently.
Here are some suggestions of how women could better use their extra 50 minutes a day:
It’s good for your memory, improves your eating habits and, most importantly, feels pretty great. And – according to a study from January this year – almost half of British women say they are not getting enough sleep and don’t feel well-rested when they wake up. There’s little doubt that 50 extra minutes could boost the health and happiness of womankind. A new dawn of lie-ins awaits.
One of the greatest rip-offs of our time is surely the silver screen experience, which now costs more than the theater/a full outfit/lunch for at least three days to sit in a darkened room while a bloke in the back presses play. But going to the flicks during less busy hours often costs a fraction of the price, and you get to enjoy Leo DiCaprio without a gaggle of teens spilling popcorn on your lap. Success.
A horrible word for a fairly valuable activity – meeting fellow professionals to discuss your industry, ideas and possible future ventures. The after-work drinking culture can often put women at a disadvantage when it comes to making connections. We’re often still seen (and see ourselves) as the bearer of domestic responsibilities, and with motherhood comes less time for networking. Having 50 extra minutes to meet and greet could make all the difference.
Actually taking your nail varnish off
…or similar. Look, no one actually likes the term ‘me time’. But – let’s face it – 50 additional minutes a day to spend on oneself would be like manna from heaven. If heaven meant not having to paint over your already scuffed nail beds with the same colour, hoping nobody will notice the deep grooves where the week-old stuff ends and the new layer begins.
Yes, yes, we all love books, but how many of us actually get to read them during the working week? Being pressed bosom-to-armpit with your fellow commuters is hardly the most conducive environment for a leisurely peruse. But with the extra time each day, we could actually take the time to dive into the tome everybody’s been talking about (not six months later, when you finally go on holiday).
Booking a holiday
No need to desperately trawl the Skyscanner app in the vain hope of finding something affordable before your annual leave next week: with actual time on your side, you can put thought into booking a trip that a) you actually want to go on and b) doesn’t cost the earth. Sorry, Latvia, maybe next time.
Going to the post office
Errands are boring. Very, very boring. But they’re also expensive when you work longer hours than the Post Office. Say goodbye to pricey courier services and hello to the snaking queue at your local Royal Mail establishment – hey, you might even make some friends in the process.
Walking to work
Commuting is tiring, unpleasant, and costs more than a decent breakfast each day. That time could be spent pounding the pavements before the dosh you’ve saved goes on a nice flat white and almond croissant, with change to spare. Plus: time to listen to the Archer’s Omnibus podcast. You’re welcome.
Doing proper exercise
Join a gym, start running or dig out those old Rosemary Conley videos and start activating your glutes from the comfort of your living room. It’ll make you feel better, set you up for the day and, perhaps most importantly, you can irritate your colleagues with tales of your sporting prowess for the next eight (paid) hours.
Trimming your bush
No, you have a dirty mind. Get the secateurs out, whizz around your overgrown greenery like Charlie Dimmock with a belly full of jet fuel and show pesky Doris down the road that your hydrangeas rule them all. Good for the soul.
Do you know what’s fine? Showers. Do you know what’s great? Baths. Yes, they’re terrible for the environment, but the odd one is probably okay (if you solemnly swear to recycle anything and everything for the rest of your existence). Stretch out, watch your fingers shrivel and enjoy that soak – you’ve earned it. Well, at least as much as the next man.
Calling your family
Catching someone on the phone when they’re actually available is a rare art, but do you know who has free time at odd hours? Old people. Ring up your nan, shoot the breeze and earn approximately three million grandchild points.
Going to a proper supermarket
Real talk: those Tesco Metros and Sainsbury’s Locals are convenient, but everything costs a great deal more than they do in the proper-sized versions of the stores. Head to one bigger than the size of a classroom and the savings could be endless.
Making your own lunch
With 50 minutes added to your day, there’s no reason to be buying that same sandwich from Pret every lunchtime. Wheel the saucepan out and get going: if you can make a batch of lunches for the week, just think how much extra napping you could get in.
Having coffee at home
Without the need to shoot straight out of the door in the morning, you could, whisper it, drink coffee at home. Your addiction to expertly frothed cappuccinos costs £15k over the course of your lifetime – think about that, cry a little, and then get yourself a jar of the instant stuff, stat.
Buying clothes in person
Online shopping is convenient, sure, but less convenient is returning all the things that look nothing like the image you thought you were purchasing when you tapped haphazardly through the Asos app at 2am. Go to a shop, try things on like a real human and then only buy what you like. Sorted.
Get a grown-up hobby
Life drawing. Pottery. Weaving. All of these things effectively have zero value in the modern world, but if you’re in the market for a new skill, why not get yourself to some classes? Yes, advanced origami sounds niche for now, but who knows who’ll be in need of those essential talents when the apocalypse hits. Sure as hell beats answering your work emails, unpaid.
Take up an instrument
Music. Makes the people. Come together. Yeah. So sang Madonna, so it must be true: with almost an hour at your disposal each day, your future as a professional flautist has never looked so bright.
As inexplicably rich as they are inexplicably irritating, vloggers – who film themselves undertaking mundane tasks – are the future of our economy (or something). Turn the webcam on and wait for the cash to start rolling in.
Broken stuff is annoying. But even more annoying? Paying to replace it because you don’t have time to get anything fixed. Sew that hole in your cardigan, tighten the dodgy screw in your door and be grateful you’ve now absolved yourself of the need to make awkward small talk with handymen. You could ask a man friend to do this for you but – hey – they’re already in the pub not working for free.