Busy is the new black — and none of us are wearing it well. We’re all over-scheduled, under-rested, rushing and running on empty most of the time. It’s costing us in ways most of us don’t even recognize.
So this week on The Living Experiment, we talk about the epic burdens of busyness, and how we can get out from under them. We offer suggestions for reclaiming your margins and for managing your energy (rather hyper-controlling every last minute of your time). And we suggest some experiments to help you restore spaciousness and sanity in your life.
“Busy” Episode Highlights
- The cult of “busy”
- The nature of the stress that busyness produces — and why, on some level, we like it
- How work hours have increased over the past 50 years
- Why most of our “leisure” activities aren’t really helping us relax
- Our culture’s glorification of the busy lifestyle, and the consumer machine that has us in its grip
- Dealing with the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that arise when we aren’t stimulated
- How to become comfortable with being idle
- Strategies for transitioning from being a “human doing” to a “human being”
This Week’s Experiments
Read How to be Idle: A Loafer’s Manifesto by Tom Hodgkinson as a way of challenging your current patterns and assumptions around how you spend your time.
Practice doing one thing and one thing only. While you do it, notice what it feels like to have your attention on this one thing, and to allow your mind to wander. See if you can get comfortable just being with yourself for this brief moment.
- For example, instead of working or surfing social media while you eat your lunch, simply eat. For extra credit, put your utensils down between bites so you pace your bites and keep your attention on chewing and tasting, rather than wolfing down your food and rushing back to your work.
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- Two articles on busyness from Experience Life magazine: “The High Cost of Being Hurried” by Pilar and “No-Vacation Nation” by John de Graaf.
- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s research on heightened states of focus in his “Flow, the Secret to Happiness” TED Talk.
- Juliet Schor’s book The Overworked American, which discusses how and why Americans are working harder than ever.
- The Story of Stuff Project: Annie Leonard’s amusing (and sobering) look into the reality of our consumption-crazed culture.
- The Take Back Your Time movement and an excerpt from its official handbook – Take Back Your Time: Fighting Overwork and Time Poverty in America, a collection of essays edited by John de Graaf that analyzes how we came to be overworked and what to do about it (contains Juliet Schor’s “The (Even More) Overworked American” essay with the graph Pilar referenced that compares annual U.S. work hours from 1967 to 2000).
- Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez’s Your Money or Your Life: a financial “how-to” that helps you re-evaluate the time you spend working for a living.
- “A Helpful Guide to Becoming Unbusy”, a blog post by Joshua Becker on the Becoming Minimalist website.
- Television specials on Affluenza from PBS – the high costs of materialism and overconsumption.
- Related episodes from The Living Experiment: Recognizing your body’s “need a break” signals during the day in Pause, and the importance of your first waking moments in Morning.