In search of lost time: why is everyone so busy?
Time poverty is a problem partly of perception and partly of distribution
“everyone everywhere was running, running, running, but to where? For what? People were trading their time for all sorts of things, but was the exchange worth it?
“Writing in the first century, Seneca was startled by how little people seemed to value their lives as they were living them—how busy, terribly busy, everyone seemed to be, mortal in their fears, immortal in their desires and wasteful of their time. He noticed how even wealthy people hustled their lives along, ruing their fortune, anticipating a time in the future when they would rest. “People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy,” he observed in “On the Shortness of Life”, perhaps the very first time-management self-help book. Time on Earth may be uncertain and fleeting, but nearly everyone has enough of it to take some deep breaths, think deep thoughts and smell some roses, deeply. “Life is long if you know how to use it,” he counselled.
“Nearly 2,000 years later, de Grazia offered similar advice. Modern life, that leisure-squandering, money-hoarding, grindstone-nosing, frippery-buying business, left him exasperated. He saw that everyone everywhere was running, running, running, but to where? For what? People were trading their time for all sorts of things, but was the exchange worth it? He closed his 1962 tome, “Of Time, Work and Leisure”, with a prescription:
‘Lean back under a tree, put your arms behind your head, wonder at the pass we’ve come to, smile and remember that the beginnings and ends of man’s every great enterprise are untidy.'”