1 in 3 American adults say they’re too busy for things like exercise, play, and leisure. Another 41% of American adults say they spent too much time on the job. However, the truth is that total working hours have declined every year for the past century. To someone from the early 1900s, it would seem to them that we’re actually in permanent vacation.
Time poverty is a state of mind
So why do so many people feel they lack the time to enjoy life a little more? It’s a matter of perception. A state of mind. A mental model. Busyness is part of a social hierarchy of values, where being engaged is valued more than being chill.
Let’s break the curse by correcting our perceived reality and getting our priorities straight. Below are a few reasons that are keeping us in a cycle of time poverty.
😦 Living in permanent FOMO
There are 1,000 new NEW things out every day. The new Netflix show, the new podcast, the new book, the new post, the new viral video you have to watch. An endless cycle of seemingly urgent “news”. Modern life is a river of new stuff where you have to keep swimming upstream or risk getting swept away by the current. The need to be in the know is giving us a sense of urgency that’s kidnapping all our day’s hours.
Break the cycle: turn off notifications for social media. Make a note to only “get in the know” once per week. Then unplug to enjoy life.
💼 Work no longer ends at the office
You’re literally being tracked by satellites and cellular networks all day so that everyone (and every corporation 😱) can reach you at all times. So when you leave the office for the day, it’s only physically. Because work is where your phone and laptop are. And every notification from work gets your “busy” alarms going, and so you never really chill once you’re home or with friends.
Break the cycle: make work stay at work. Log out of your work chat and email when you leave. It serves as both a real and symbolic action that helps you feel you’ve left “busy” behind.
🏅 Being busy is a status symbol
Seeming busy comes with the implicit understanding that our time is in demand. “Hours worked” is more and more seen as something to be proud of. The 100-hour work week is now the staple of the “passionate” entrepreneur or employee who is on the path to solve the world’s problems.
However, evidence suggests that more hours doesn’t mean more productivity. Performance actually declines! Being too busy is detrimental to your sought-after outcomes. So even if putting in more hours is a good look, it’s not worth it!
Here’s something else to think about: cultures outside the US, like in Spain and Italy, actually regard those who have a lot of leisure time as being rich and successful.
Break the cycle: Being busy is as prestigious as you want it to be. Reorder your priorities and start valuing other things as more important, like actually being happy and healthy!
Let’s be busy, in a healthy way
😌 Focused work and time blocking.
I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t be busy. However, being engaged all day is seriously detrimental to your health. It’s linked to higher levels of stress, and stress kills, people!
We’re advocates of focused time and time blocking. Working hard for an hour, then taking an active break with a Wakeout. Then hit another good, quality hour of healthy work. Then when the day’s over, (your work “block”), work is truly over. It’s time to completely switch off to hang out with family and friends (and dogs!).
If you need help focusing, check out our app Active Workday. It’ll help you get more work done and be healthier at the end of the day. But don’t forget to block work time so you know when to stop.