Nowadays almost everyone wants to do more in less time, so the books about working more productively and efficiently are flying over the counter. But where we hope that this will give us a little more peace of mind, the opposite is often the case.
Like so many people, Bart took stock at the end of December. What had he achieved? What did he want in the new year? He did come up with stories that he could publish as a freelance journalist to various media and dreamed about passive revenue models. But did they come true?
Read on and find out why working in an efficient way can still lead to agitation. In addition, check out your perfect escape route from any job you might have in the last paragraphs.
No change yet
Barely two months later, little of his intentions turned out to be realized. He still said “yes” to almost everything and made no time for plans that he had made up himself. To do whatever he wanted, he decided to get up an hour earlier. He also bought an organization planner. That looks like a paper diary, but you not only write down appointments but also all other tasks – large and small. Even so, he still had a gnawing feeling that he hadn’t checked off all his to-dos.
He is not the only one short on time. Nowadays, more than half of the Western population has the feeling that they are sometimes too busy. Four in ten people feel rushed and feel that they are falling short at home or at work due to time pressure. The time pressure is greatest for workers with young children or someone to take care of, research shows.
The fact that we like to do more in less time can also be seen in the bestsellers about working more productively. David Allen’s Getting things done sold millions of copies worldwide. There is also a proliferation of (online) courses and training on time management, and a whole series of productivity apps.
Observers see that we come up with all kinds of ways to work more efficiently. We use our time more intensively, for example trying to multitask or do things faster. “But this doesn’t necessarily give us peace of mind. You think you can get more done, but if all activities are very short, you have to constantly pay attention and be focused. This makes your life more intensive and can actually lead to more agitation.
Being busy as a status symbol
Productivity methods can therefore increase the pressure because you cram more into your day instead of having time left. The real problem is that being busy is perceived as a status symbol. We all have heard the term “You know me, I am busy, busy, busy”.
One expert cites a 2016 American study published in the Journal of Consumer Research: half of a group of participants saw messages on Facebook from a certain Sally who said she was very busy, so busy she couldn’t have lunch and left on Friday evening. She had to work at home. The other half of the participants saw messages from Sally saying that she was enjoying her free time. The conclusion was that busy Sally was seen as a woman with a better job and more status.
It is their own doing
It has been found out that this can lead to “a culture of ideal workers”. People base their identity on their busy work and organize the rest of their lives around their job. This sounds a bit pathetic but still happens.
Another expert describes something similar in his book and doctoral research. He calls it “neoliberal social engineering”. In our performance society, employees see success or failure as their own responsibility. Their identity depends on the performance delivered. In addition, everything must be “useful”. The result: a self-inflicted rat race in which people are not forced to work by an external authority, but in reality are exploiting themselves.
Ministry of time constraints
Furthermore, it has now been fixed that we not only experience social pressure to do a lot but also reprimand ourselves when we do not make the most of the time in it. Adults want one-and-one, without thinking about why. They don’t know any better. We think it’s part of life to do everything and not make choice. Is the only solution to accept that not everything we want can be done?
Reading self-help books to ease the feeling of time pressure will only help a little. Time pressure is not an individual, but a social problem. We think we should solve it ourselves, but you can’t do that yourself. You have to do that as a society or as a company. In France, for example, there is the right to be unreachable for your employer. Because there is a law to limit time pressure, employees do not have to do that themselves as much.
If there could only be a Ministry for Time Constraints in a future cabinet so that the crowds could be better distributed. Because there are also a lot of people with loads of time; unemployed and retirees, for example.
In the meantime, we might get some rest by finally using up those vacation days. You would not believe the number of holidays that are not taken annually. Those are in the tens of millions all over the place. And it is an undisputed fact that you need those days to relax. And then take a few days off straight away, because it takes time to get away from work and get used to doing nothing much but going easy on yourself.
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