The Silicon Valley Voice

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It’s All About Me Time

Congratulations, kid. For once, you’re totally ahead of the curve. It’s true! The newest trend for the trendiest companies is the introduction of “Me Time.”

While it is a little bit unclear what Me Time is, we do know what it is not. Me Time is not a vacation day, nor a sick day, nor a personal day. Me Time is a day your company gives you to explore that vast wasteland of crushed dreams that represents your inner self.

Which is why I say that you’re ahead of the curve. You already spend most days exploring your inner life, and, pretty much, ignoring your outer life — another vast wasteland full of unread emails, unattended meetings and blown deadlines.

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In fact, the only difference between this new Me Time and the old You Time is the public recognition Me Time is getting in a recent Rachel Feintzeig column in The Wall Street Journal.

“Forget Mental-Health Days, ‘Me Time’ Comes to the Office,” describes how “a handful of companies have begun offering workers paid days off to spend on themselves, in addition to vacation time and personal and sick days.”

Like the super-annoying, anti-social media job site, LinkedIn, “employees get monthly meeting-free ‘In Days’ to hang out or go on company outings.”

This would not work well for you. Unless the “company outing” is an all-expense paid trip to the Kit Kat Klub for Wednesday’s all-you-can-eat barbecue wings, you’d do better staying at your desk, sleeping.

While supposedly for the benefit of employees, a key component of Me Time is the enthusiasm you’re required to show for the generosity of your employer. This is most clear for the poor devils working for outdoor outfitter REI. As Rachel writes, “REI’s 13,000 employees get two paid ‘yay days’ annually to commune with nature — and document their exploits on social media.”

If this is supposed to be an employee benefit, I don’t see it.

Unless the company recognizes the Kit Kat Klub as an integral part of nature — and it is as dark and dank as the Carlsbad Caverns — or REI management truly believes that its customer base will be impressed by a Facebook posting documenting you beating the world record for barbecue wing eating, your “yay” will certainly become a “nay.”

Of course, not everyone is in love with the Me Time concept. Bruce Elliott, manager of compensation and benefits at the Society for Human Resource Management thinks “companies are slapping new names on an old benefit, trying to prove they are hip. Your older workers are going to go, ‘what the heck?'”

It is true that we older workers, struggling to find meaning in the wasted decades after we turn 25, do not easily embrace new ideas, but even fossils like us understand the concept of getting paid without doing any work. The question our senile brains keep raising is whether it’s more relaxing and less stressful to be at work, doing no work, or wandering in the woods searching for self-actualization, or being bused to some all-day off-site on how to develop trust by falling backwards off a rock into the arms of the IT department.

Another question raised about the Me Time concept is whether anyone really wants more time off. According to Rachel Feintzeig, “while Americans get an average 21 paid vacation days a year, they forfeit an average of 4.9 of them.”

Think about it: there are 300 million Americans (not counting those highly suspicious individuals in your HR department. Are you feeling me, comrades?). If everyone not taking vacation days off would give you just one, you would have 300,000,000 days off, which are enough to keep you on permanent vacation until March 3967.

Granted it will be difficult to come back to work after almost 2,000 years off, but maybe, by then, you’ll be ready to retire, which is good, since the Crater of Caring Retirement Home on Venus will be offering excellent rates for robot-assisted living.

My favorite implementation of Me Time comes from an employee of Qlik Technologies who used the company’s “24-For-You” program to learn about running a tree farm.

This little bit of Me Time, or should I say, Tree Time, is a real third-eye opener for me. I now understand that working on a tree farm is your dream job.

You plant a tree, do absolutely nothing for 40 years, dig up the tree, and sell it.

That should keep you plenty busy until it’s time to retire on Venus.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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