The AtlanticThe Atlantic

The moral case for working less

By Simone Stolzoff

24 May 2023 · 7 min read

informed Summary

  1. After a decade in the corporate world, Josh Epperson left his job and began a project that has him working no more than 20 hours a week and only taking on meaningful work that pays well.

Forty-year-old Josh Epperson works 10 to 15 hours a week and makes about $100,000 a year. After more than a decade in the corporate world and seven years working at a global brand consultancy, he has spent the past three years running what he calls “The Experiment.” The Experiment has three precepts. First, Epperson accepts only work that he finds meaningful. Second, he accepts only work that pays well (his rate is $130 an hour). Third, he never works more than 20 hours a week. Rather than leverage his expertise for more money, as is customary for most ambitious professionals, he’s chosen to leverage his expertise for more time.

For much of human history, the more wealth an individual accumulated, the less time they spent working. But in the past 50 years, a strange trend has occurred: Despite gains in wealth and productivity, many college-educated Americans—and especially college-educated men—have worked more than ever. Instead of trading wealth for leisure, American professionals began to trade leisure for more work.

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