When 3 p.m. rolls around, it feels like the do-or-die hour: the last chance to clear tasks off today’s to-do list before they pile on tomorrow’s. Your brain sputters out frantic plans: maybe you can get to the post office, answer those emails, and submit the file that has been sitting on your desk before you have to make that meeting at 4:30.
In a popular opinion piece for The New York Times, Tim Kreider looks at the cult of busyness. “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.” He argues that busyness is a combination of choices and social pressures to avoid laziness, but that unrelenting activity has its costs: ”The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”
“I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter,” says Kreider. Perhaps there is a point at which we force ourselves into a completely packed schedule that is filled with more sweat and tears than its worth. Do we owe it to ourselves to try and find a balance, or should we just accept busyness as a fact of modern life?
Chappell Ellison is a designer, writer and design writer. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York where she serves as a contributor for The Etsy Blog and design columnist for GOOD.