“What have you been up to? How’s the site?” are the questions I get the most often when I’m meeting up with someone.

“Busy!” I say. “I’m working a lot—pretty much all the time. But I feel really fortunate to be this busy. Busy is good.”

The main reason I feel busy is because I have 1.5 jobs, plus a mess of things on the side, so it always feels like I’m working on something. When I’m not working on something, I’m thinking about what I need to work on. But am I really that busy? Maybe not as busy as I believe I am.

Here’s The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson:

…in recent years, with wage growth falling behind the rising cost of essentials like health insurance and college tuition, and with technology dissolving the boundaries of the traditional workplace, Americans seem to be working more than ever. But the truth is that we are working less. So why do we feel so busy?

He answers—using a series of charts.


8 Comments / Post A Comment

ellabella (#1,480)

Because if you say you’re busy, then if you don’t do something you were supposed to do, it’s because you’re too busy, not because you are lazy, stupid, or too depressed to do all the things.

Also because as Millennials who were overscheduled as children, we don’t know how to cope with not being overscheduled, so we schedule in “fun” (half-tongue-in-cheek here, who knows), I like to schedule in my hobbies, exercise, errands dinner dates, etc. so I can seem busy (see point #1) and to avoid the crippling feeling of patheticness when I’m boooored and have nothing to doooo.

Slutface (#53)


@Slutface See Chart #6.

I certainly think having a stable full-time job really changes your perception of “busy-ness” as compared to cobbling together the same number of hours from multiple jobs or open-ended gigs. I spend way more hours “at work” now than when I was a freelancer, but I know that as long as I am at my desk from 9-5:30 M-F my rent and bills will get paid.

I can work on my side projects without money or time pressure which is really nice — sometimes I get home and I’m feeling energized and want to work on a project, but if I’m not I can just go have some beers or watch a bad movie with my wife and I don’t have to worry that I might not make rent next month. (Now, granted, the side projects I have going on at the moment are really just for me — when I do paid freelance work with a deadline it does get more stressful, but it also tends to focus me more so I can usually knock out a project in 1/3 of time it would’ve taken when I was full-time freelancing.)

ArizonaTime (#2,694)

Y’all probably already read this, but another great perspective on the topic from the Times…


The Mole (#2,633)

@ArizonaTime Ha, I just came in to post this. Enough already! We’ve been having this coversation every few months or so for who knows how long. Too long.

themmases (#1,959)

I don’t think it’s really accurate to say that “leisure time” is allocated to poorer people. People working for very low hourly wages often have trouble getting consistent full-time hours and the benefits that go with them, and may be paid at rates so low that they need more than one job to get by– so the reduction in their hours is actually harming them. Demands by, e.g., retail employers that employees be available to call in at the start of a possible shift, or be willing to work outside their stated availability, keep people from picking up other hours elsewhere.

My perception of professionals being busier is that they are busier while at work. It seems like it’s not uncommon to pick up a coworker’s work when they leave, maybe indefinitely, rather than see them replaced (this is happening in my department right now, even though the person moved up and was overworked before she left). If, as an office worker, you have any ability to limit your time at a job that is really 3 jobs from 9-5, I’d think you would. My boss told me when I became salaried not to try to work much more than 40 hours a week, and even as the workload has increased I’ve tried to treat it as a given that that’s still our arrangement.

One of the things I’ve noticed about academia is that the boundaries between my “work time” and “free time” are very fluid, so I simultaneously feel like I’m always working and never working. Of course, some of that stems from my current situation of cobbling together (something of) a living from multiple jobs.

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