I read Little House on the Freeway while I was away at the marriage conference this weekend.
In it, author Tim Kimmell lists the seven reasons that we may feel too harried, ranging from "can't stand silence" to a "screen addiction" to an addiction to helping others. As I read the seven reasons (I can't remember all of them now) I felt immeasurably better because I realized that I really only suffered from 1 or 2, and not all 7. So that's got to be a good thing.
One thing that I've been thinking about lately, though, as I've had an incredibly busy couple of weeks, is that we aren't necessarily busier than in the past. We just FEEL busier.
When you look at time studies, the amount of work we do has increased slightly. But it hasn't increased a ton. If you combine housework and paid work, we're still, as a society, doing roughly the same as we did in 1970. Slightly more, but not like 50% more or anything. We actually have a fair amount of leisure time. The difference is in how we're choosing to spend that leisure.
Some of us are simply overextended with committees and extracurricular activities, as we have talked about on this blog over the last two weeks. But I think there's something else at work. When we choose to spend our leisure time in front of a screen (either the internet or the television), we often LOSE a significant portion of our day.
When you sit down at the TV, do you think to yourself, I think I'll sit here for two and a half hours? Chances are you don't, but often you find that that is exactly what you've done. Same with the internet. I sit down to "check a few emails" and suddenly an hour has gone by. When we spend so much of our lives in front of a screen, then we do have less time to get things done.
Also, my truly relaxing time isn't in front of a screen. I like to knit (sometimes I knit while watching a movie, but my primary activity is the knitting, not the movie). I need to knit everyday just for my sanity. So if I don't have time to knit because I've been on the internet, I don't feel relaxed, even though I've just been spending "me" time. Some "me" time doesn't actually relax, because you feel, at the end of it, that you have just lost two hours of your life.
I wonder, then, how much of our busy-ness simply stems from the crazy ways we spend our leisure time. I talk about this a lot in To Love, Honor, and Vacuum: When You Feel More Like a Maid Than a Wife and Mother, but sometimes I need to remind myself of the concept. Often we turn to time wasters, like TV and the internet, because we're tired. We're exhausted. And we just want to relax. The problem is that these things don't relax us. So we end up worse than we were before.
This week I'm going to try something different. I'm going to only go on the internet to do specific things (email checking, blogging, fixing websites), and I'm not going to surf for no apparent reason. I'm not going to get caught up in reading news sites. I may catch up on the blogs I really enjoy, and I may check headline news, but I'm not going to surf like crazy.
And, in turn, I'm going to make sure that I have time to knit everyday, and I'm going to make sure that I have good time to talk with my kids. Perhaps the reason that we feel so busy isn't that we're actually busy as much as it is that we realize the important things in life aren't getting done. If we took steps to prioritize those important things, then we'd feel better. We'd feel more productive. We'd go to bed at night knowing that we had had a good day. I'd really like that feeling again, and I'm going to try to catch it this week! Are you with me?
Please leave a comment! Tell me if you struggle with this, too. I'd love to know if I'm alone or not!
Labels: blogging, busy, internet, television