Monday, March 24, 2014

You're not as busy as you say you are

Hanna Rosin's recent article You’re Not As Busy As You Say You Are in Slate presents a scenario: we feel overburdened by all the times we have to do. As your day progresses, you begin to feel as if your workload drives your day, rather than you maintaining a balance of "critical" versus the "merely important."

Busyness is a virtue, so people are terrified of hearing they may have empty time, as Tim Kreider wrote in The ‘Busy’ Trap. If you find yourself feeling frantic at your ever-growing mental "to do" list, you may feel that all your tasks blend into each other and a day has no sense of distinct phases. From the article:
Researchers call it “contaminated time,” … The only relief from the time pressure comes from cordoning off genuine stretches of free or leisure time, creating a sense of what Schulte calls “time serenity” or “flow.” But over the years, time use diaries show that women have become terrible at that, squeezing out any free time and instead, as Schulte puts it, resorting to “crappy bits of leisure time confetti.”
The article cites sociologist John Robinson, one of the first people to start collecting time use diaries, in recommending a solution:
Robinson doesn’t ask us to meditate, or take more vacations, or breathe, or walk in nature, or do anything that will invariably feel like just another item on the to-do list. The answer to feeling oppressively busy, he says, is to stop telling yourself that you’re oppressively busy, because the truth is that we are all much less busy than we think we are.
So, how busy are you really? As managers, we may ask our staff to account for their time, so we can report on that effort to others within our leadership structure. (At Morris, we use effort-based workplans.) But we don't ask the same of ourselves. The "common wisdom" is that management time is "overhead," and not tracked. But if we were to be honest with ourselves, are we really that busy, or do we just say we're that busy?

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