Au boulot!

Monday morning oblige, it’s time to get to work.

Déjà? After running around on Saturday and enjoying a well-earned day of rest on Sunday, getting back to work on Monday can come as a bit of a shock.

In France, as in countries all over the world, the beginning of each new week means we’re up with the birds and back to work.

It’s been a few years since I had to badge in and out of the workplace. In France, official time management systems are a legal obligation. To ensure that the employer gets a fair share of working time or to count up all the extra hours le salarié puts in?  It works both ways.

When I worked full time for a French pharmaceutical company, the ritual of badging in and out each day ensured that any extra time was added to the ‘compte epargne temps’, a sort of savings account that employees could use to add extra time for special circumstances like maternity leave, a sabbatical or even early retirement. Anyone who put in more than a 35-hour week on a regular basis had to watch out though — HR was on the case and cracked down on the workaholics who simply could not leave the office.

I knew a few. It should come as no surprise that I was not one of them.

Now that I work freelance, mostly from home, my commute to the office takes only seconds (although I can easily get sidetracked by other, more pressing tasks…). I no longer have to ‘pointer’ or badge in and out. But the numbers on the invoices at the end of the month will show me up if I slack off.

I figure it’s all about pacing. Slow and steady wins the race, like this 84-year-old florist who was featured on a France TV report last week.

Monsieur Château, however bent over, seems to be a firm believer in the French saying, ‘le travail, c’est la santé’ (work is health).

I tend to agree with him. It’s important to keep doing something worthwhile, to have a purpose in life that gets us out of bed each morning. There’s nothing wrong with retirement and leisure pursuits for those who’ve reached the appropriate age and feel they’ve had enough of the grind. But we all need a ‘raison d’être’ to keep going.

In that spirit, happy Monday to all. Now, au boulot!