Here are three possible explanations for why we all feel so busy:
- We all spend too much precious time telling each other how busy we are, as if it were something to be proud of. (ref: this blog post)
- We all mistakenly believe we can have it all. And multitask. (we massively underestimate the switching costs)
- Men, of course! (at least according to this recent book review in the New Yorker – it’s unclear, as a man, who I should blame, but maybe I just need to lean in more, I don’t know?)
By the way, Keynes’ prediction was actually right, in my opinion: most of us struggle to do three hours of productive work per day. How else would we find the time for so much reality television otherwise?
As an experiment I’ve been trying to stop using the negative versions of the words we use to describe our activity, when we are unconsciously sympathising with each other: busy, stretched, slammed, etc. There are alternatives which are much more positive: full (as in full of interesting and awesome things), focussed, engaged.
Of course, using those words to describe your day does force you to consider how accurate they are as a description, and if not, maybe think again about how excited you are to be “busy”.
Give it a try.