April 15, 2014

COAL MINERS WERE BUSY; YOU'RE WHINY:

You're Not As Busy As You Say You Are : Also, by talking about it so much, you're wasting time.  (Hanna Rosin, 3/23/14, Slate)

John Robinson, a sociologist known as Father Time because he was one of the first people to start collecting time use diaries, which became the basis for the American Time Use Surveys that tell us so much about how we live [...] 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. And our consistent insistence that we are busy has created a host of personal and social ills which Schulte reports on in great detail in her book--unnecessary stress, exhaustion, bad decision-making, and, on a bigger level, a conviction that the ideal worker is one who is available at all times because he or she is grateful to be "busy," and that we should all aspire to the insane schedules of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

"It's very popular, the feeling that there are too many things going on, that people can't get in control of their lives and the like," Robinson says. "But when we look at peoples' diaries there just doesn't seem to be the evidence to back it up ... It's a paradox. When you tell people they have thirty or forty hours of free time every week, they don't want to believe it."

Busyness is a virtue, so people are terrified of hearing they may have empty time, as Tim Kreider wrote in "The 'Busy' Trap."* It's the equivalent of being told that you're redundant or obsolete. Robinson has Schulte keep a time use diary and shows her lots of free time she hadn't counted as such--lying in bed aimlessly, exercising, playing backgammon on her computer, talking to a friend on the phone. Yet she still doesn't believe that, as a working mother, she could possibly have any leisure time. In fact, she seems skeptical of Robinson's whole premise that we are busy because we say we are.


Posted by at April 15, 2014 5:07 AM
  
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