Did you know there is an annual meeting of the International Association for Time Use Research? I didn’t either. In fact, according to a sociologist from Oxford who apparently attends this meeting, “There’s great interest in trying to understand why time pressure is increasing.” In fact, “This is the hot topic in time research right now.” #mmkay?
I’m not sure how many years these brainiacs have been meeting on the topic of time use, but I don’t think they’ve gotten very far because we’re still a time pressure mess over here in America (in my humble non-sociologist blogger opinion.) In fact, according to an article, “No Time,” that recently ran in the The New Yorker, busyness, or a real or presumed lack of time, has acquired social status.
One of the astute points Elizabeth Kolbert, the author of the article, wrote that struck me as especially troubling is below:
“A researcher she consults at the University of North Dakota, Ann Burnett, has collected five decades’ worth of holiday letters and found that they’ve come to dwell less and less on the blessings of the season and more and more on how jam-packed the previous year has been.”
Is that true or what! And I think I might be one of the biggest perpetrators of that on the planet – without even thinking about it! Two years ago I created an INFOGRAPHIC Christmas card for goodness sake! My intention was simply to share the highlights of an exciting year with my friends and family – but really I could have just written NOEL or JINGLE BELLS, YALL, right? Did I really need to fill everyone in on all of these details? Was it the right time? I may need to rethink my approach for 2015.
Another theory she has (which I also think is SPOT ON) is that “the overwhelm” – or “yuppie kvetching” – is a function “not so much of how many things Americans have to do but of how much time they spend thinking about how many things they have to do.” Side note: is yuppie kvetching not the best and worst thing you have ever heard? Use that in a sentence today please. An example of this would be a communications professional who is sitting at her desk trying to focus on an urgent PowerPoint deck but also, in the not-so-back of her mind, stressing over a media dinner she gets to attend that night that she isn’t dressed appropriately for. Thinking about that media dinner doesn’t make that comms professional any busier, just more fraught because she isn’t focusing on the task at hand. Hmmm – I wish I knew someone that could apply to.
If you have a moment this week (and aren’t too…busy) take a moment and read the article. It provides great perspective, hits on a ton of additional points and things that will make you go hmmm, and was a good reboot for me this week.
And now, I will close with a very depressing statistic from the article because I am too busy to conclude this post appropriately: the average employed American now works roughly a hundred and forty hours more per year than the average Englishman and three hundred hours more than the average Frenchman.