Slices of Life... Busy days, rushed schedules may take their toll

Is it just me, or has the world become a busier place? Things have become faster, more efficient. They take less of our time and attention, leaving us with the expectation that we can do two, three or more things at once. How do we develop this m...

Is it just me, or has the world become a busier place?

Things have become faster, more efficient. They take less of our time and attention, leaving us with the expectation that we can do two, three or more things at once.

How do we develop this mindset? It's the world we live in.

My microwave thinks for me. I used to have to remember how many seconds it took to make popcorn. Now I press the button labeled "popcorn" and walk away. It's perfect every time. I also have buttons for things like "frozen dinner," "vegetables," and "baby food." My microwave is a better mother than I could ever hope to be.

Remember when you had to wind your watch? Every morning, you'd pull the little round button and twist until it was wound tight. If you forgot, your watch stopped, and you'd have to ask someone for the correct time. Now, watches wind themselves, courtesy of batteries or solar power, and we don't ever have to start a conversation with, "Excuse me, do you have the time?"


The telephone's gone through quite an evolution. Decades ago, it was a nifty device, but rather inhibiting with its cord and all. So, someone invented the cordless wonder. We could walk around the house or change the baby's diaper - without ever hanging up. Still, we were stuck to the house. Then, the cell phone came along, and we could drive to the grocery store and walk the dog - all while talking to Aunt Nellie. Of course we still had to use one hand to hold the phone, until Bluetooth was created, freeing us to do anything (well, almost anything) while chatting away.

How have the microwave, telephone and similar devices influenced our thinking? They've raised the bar on expectations for our own productivity. We think we should be able to get more done. It's a nice theory, but in reality, this line of thinking only puts us in a in a constant state of rushing.

We rush through our morning shower and skip breakfast to save time. We rush from project to project at work, and eat lunch at our desk while answering e-mails. We rush to the grocery store, grabbing as many convenience foods as possible. We rush through a conversation with our spouse and homework with our kids. We eat dinner in the car so we aren't late for evening commitments.

For many of us, rushing has become a way of life. Some call it multi-tasking. I call it exhausting.

Busy is the latest status symbol. It's almost like we believe that we derive significance from the number of appointments, meetings and practices we can schedule into a day.

You'd be hard pressed to hear someone say, "I had all afternoon to cook, and the whole family sat around the dinner table and had a nice long conversation. Afterwards, we played Parcheesi."

Chances are, you don't even know the rules of Parcheesi. I know I don't. People don't have the time to play games like Parcheesi anymore. They don't sit around the dinner table every night. Heck, most families are lucky if they connect for a quick bite of fish sticks once or twice a week.

No one admits that they had a boring afternoon with nothing to do except take a nap. Most people wouldn't say that their work is easy or they are caught up on the laundry. It isn't fashionable to be caught up or take it easy. If you do, well, then darn it, you just aren't doing enough.


We all have demanding jobs and difficult schedules. It makes our work important and worthwhile. It makes us important and worthwhile.

Trouble is, some of us are so busy being busy that we're missing the big picture. Life is about the many moments that come together to make it a whole. Being busy doesn't help cram more meaning into life; it robs us of the ability to do so.

And, caught up in all of this, are our children. They are learning by example. Our rushing - our striving to get more done in less time - has enormous repercussions on their lives.

Do we want the next generation to grow up thinking that meetings take precedence over family, answering the cell phone during dinner is normal or that being busy is the same as being important?

Where do things like kindness and compassion fit into our new world? Connecting with people in a real way takes time. Rushing through things doesn't allow for extras like patience and generosity. They are luxuries that often don't fit into a busy schedule.

When we fly through the drive-thru between a meeting and a practice, toss the burgers and fries toward the back seat and call it "dinner," I wonder: Is busy really the legacy we want to leave our children, or could a slight shift in priorities provide them with something that's perhaps even more important?

Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and freelance writer working with graphic designer Nikki Willgohs to provide writing and design and other marketing services to businesses and individuals. She appreciates comments and can be reached at .

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