Feeling like a slave to your schedule? This Oct. 24, thousands of Americans are just saying “NO” to overworking and overstress that is overwhelming them.

Take Back Your Time Day, a project of the Center for Religion, Ethics and Social Policy at Cornell University, is a “nationwide initiative to challenge the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine that now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and our environment.”

This isn’t just a day to play hooky from work. The hope is that Take Back Your Time Day will prove to be a day of learning and change this year and in the years to come, according to the effort’s official Web site.

Take Back Your Time is not anti-work, but it promotes simpler living.

“Useful and creative work is essential to happiness,” organizers say. “But American life has gotten way out of balance. Producing and consuming more have become the single-minded obsession of the American economy, while other values—strong families and communities, good health and a clean environment, active citizenship and social justice, time for nature and the soul—are increasingly neglected.”

The main goal is to call attention to the problem and begin public conversation about solutions.

With that in mind, planners are focusing on potential legislation and policy changes to help promote a lower-stress working life. Discussions include how work/life balance can be good for both employees and employers, how to create decent part-time jobs and solutions for low-income workers who can’t afford to work less.

With hopes of becoming as widely celebrated as Earth Day, Take Back Your Time Day is in the same vein as the “slow food” and “simple living” movements, organizers say.

The Web offers resources for getting involved, and a Take Back Your Time handbook is in the works. The book will offer suggestions for ways to fight overwork and time poverty in America.

The group picked Oct. 24 for its focus, because it is nine weeks from the end of the year. Planners say Americans work an average of nine full weeks longer than people do in Western Europe.

Americans are also working longer hours on the job now than in the 1950s. Americans not only work more than the citizens of any other industrial country, organizers say, but even more than peasants worked in medieval times. Working Americans average just over two weeks vacation, while Europeans average five to six weeks.

Jodi Mathews is news writer for EthicsDaily.com.

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