The year was 1940, and nylon stockings had hit store shelves. The top song was "When You Wish Upon a Star" by the Glenn Miller Orchestra. And, gasp, gas sold for 18 cents a gallon.

But it was 1940. It was so long ago — so what?

Well, something happened in 1940 that should be helping you out almost every day of your life.

In 1940, the 40-hour workweek went into effect.

It was part of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires overtime pay for more than 40 hours of work a week.

But does the 40-hour workweek really matter today, with so many employees salaried and ineligible for overtime?

Unfortunately, no.

"People still talk about working 9 (a.m.) to 5 (p.m.), but at this point people are working 8 (a.m.) to 6 (p.m.) — at least," says Gretchen Burger, program director for Take Back Your Time, a Seattle-based organization formed to raise awareness of the time poverty facing Americans. "We need to get back to the 40-hour workweek."

That's easier said than done. Work has a way of following you around like a nagging mother, who makes you feel guilty for not visiting more. It's always on your mind. Always there.

"In many ways, work is infringing on our lives," Burger says. "We're not at the office, but we're tied to the office."

In this superconnected world — where almost every part of work can be done at home — finding balance is tough.

So, it's refreshing for Tamika Warren, who works in human resources for Lawrence Township (Ind.) Schools, to have a boss who appreciates that balance.

"He takes the time to spend with his family, (so) we feel comfortable in doing the same," she says. "We never have to feel torn between taking a vacation day or going into the office."

Tracey Greider, who has been known to work 50-hour weeks as an executive assistant for the Indianapolis Children's Choir, does something not enough workers do. She takes back her time. In the summer, her slow season, she'll work a 32-hour week instead of 40.

"You have to leave work at work and home at home," she says.

A few other suggestions to get back to 40:

Actually take a lunch break, out of the office.

Ask for comp time if you work more than 40 hours.

Force yourself to work eight-hour days and see if, perhaps, you are more productive and can really fit it all into 40 hours.

Leave work for the important stuff, like a child's football game or your best friend's Tupperware party.

After all, like the 40-hour workweek, Tupperware was invented in 1940.