The working week
There is a general idea that in the past people were forced to work vast numbers of hours a week, either in paid employment or in subsistence agriculture, but like many bits of "common knowledge" it seems to be largely a myth.
In subsistence and near subsistence farming cultures today seasonal unemployment is the norm - which makes sense when you think that while in low-tech agriculture a lot of labour is needed for field preparation, (often) planting, and harvest, not a lot usually needs to be done in between times.
But even wage employment was not so full on as we tend to think. eg. tin miners took an afternoon nap during their shift, while a treatise of 1778 noted that: "When a pair of men went underground formerly, they made it a rule to sleep out a candle, before they set about their work .... then rise up and work briskly; after that, have a touch pipe, that is rest themselves half an hour to smoke a pipe of tobacco, and so play and sleep away half their time...
Similar practices were described in many other trades and occupations. Most symbolical of customary irregular working was the observance of 'Saint Monday' - that is, keeping Monday as a holiday and hardly beginning the week's work until Tuesday. .... It has been suggested that among urban workers, Saint Monday was so generally observed by the later 18th century that a regular 'week' of which Tuesday was the first full working day was already in existence."
(J. Rule, "Against Innovation? Custom and Resistance in the Workplace 1700-1850", in T. Harris (ed) Popular Culture in England 1500-1850, Macmillan, 1995, pp. 180-181.)
I wonder if in the high working hours cultures of the UK and US, people are not working more on a regular basis than ever before.