Time. Despite all the planning, scheduling and multitasking, for so many of us there never seems to be enough of it. Planning a daily agenda during our morning commute to work, paying online bills while walking a dog, and checking news and responding to e-mails during the kids’ soccer practice is the new normal in our society. We run non-stop around the clock, dividing our attention among millions of things, constantly checking our watches and scrambling for more time. Every day feels a lot like one long rush hour.
Just look at how fast people drive these days! So many drivers go 40-45 mph in a 30 mph zone without batting an eyelash, one could wonder whether the speed limit signs are more of a suggestion than a state law. In the search for more time in a day we rush everywhere, oftentimes out of habit, pushing on the gas pedal a bit too hard even when there is no problem or emergency that requires our immediate attention. Daily traffic is one of the things that exasperates people the most these days. Moving slowly is tantamount to wasting time for a lot of busy people, and so many drivers tend to quickly lose their cool — blow their horns and shout curses at the person in front of them — when stuck in a stream of heavy traffic. All that irritation and anger do not make cars move any faster or help us reach our next destination any sooner; they do, however, add more stress to our already stressful lives.
Do we ever stop to even ask ourselves why we are rushing from one place to another and checking things off the “to do” lists? Our future-focused mentality and an acute need to get there quickly and do as much as we can once we’re there are not just one-time experiences, they have become deeply embedded into our culture. The culture that celebrates its overachievers and ambitious high flyers, the culture that devoutly follows a “time is money” credo, the culture in which growth, development and progress are expected to happen in the blink of an eye.
Technology, once expected to give us more time, seems to steal from us too. It has created the many distractions and time traps that waste so much of our time. The proliferation of the internet and the World Wide Web has placed a wealth of information right at the tips of our fingers, opened up countless opportunities and created millions of choices for us to evaluate and consider on a daily basis. Who can really ever finish reading all the posts on their Facebook feed or check all of their Instagram updates?
It’s not all bad though. The ability to multitask is an essential skill that is very much in demand in today’s busy world. But research shows that chronic multitasking does not always lead to the most effective use of time, and in fact sometimes it creates more mistakes. The emotional impact is great, too – the impatience and short temper we may have assumed may cause us extra stress and place our physical and mental well-being in jeopardy: Chronic stress has long since been linked to attention loss, elevated blood pressure and increased risk of heart attack.
If you want to slow down and take some of your life back in the midst of the rush all around you, consider trying one (or more) of these five approaches: