Time, Speed, Wellbeing

Having “enough time” seems to be a luxury most people don’t have. In Norway one can often read about issues around “tidsklemma”, which could be translated to “the time squeeze”, meaning we don’t have enough of it. Especially a challenge for young parents with children and 100% jobs, but not limited to this group. A modern person is drawn in many directions; work (and staying up-to-date, e.g. taking courses, more education, etc) children, house tasks, maybe aging parents, sports, networks,  charity, friends, hobbies, art/culture – we should be on top of it all!

And at work; how many years of downsizing and cutting costs have we had now? 10? 20? Seems like a long time anyway. People are laid off, but tasks are not “laid off”, so less people do the same amount of work – with pressure to do it faster.  I hear via my clients, friends and networks that people ask themselves where this will end; feeling exhausted and disappointed of the pressure they are put under. Disappointed because the human factor doesn’t matter, it’s all about squeezing maximum out of the employees. Adding tasks, but not subtracting anything. These dilemmas we have known for a while, but I’m wondering whether we have shifted to a different gear – to increase the speed. Blackberries, Iphones, Ipads, laptops – we are always available and expected to reply. On that point, I am noticing a certain fatigue, which shows up e.g. via no-reply (or very delayed), answering only one of two-three questions, and asking a question about something that is already described in the email. High speed, maybe, but with lack of concentration and doing mediocre work as a result. This is my simplified conclusion, of course, but that’s what I hear and see.

The two factors above; lack of time and artificial high speed or activity level, could they contribute to our wellbeing? Well, to a certain level, yes. It can feel good to have many activities squeezed into a short timeframe, and to work at a high speed getting a lot done, both give a sensation of achievement. But.. challenge is that we can’t be doing that all the time. We need to slow down sometimes and have time to recharge our batteries. Where lays the responsibility for that? Well, certainly with ourselves, for example by making sure to take leave. And by asking ourselves some questions as; “how can I organize myself”, “what is important to me”, “where can I take control”, “what activities take energy and what activities give me energy – how can I balance them”, “where are my limits” (and to communicate those limits). However, an employer also has systemic responsibility in setting up a work structure that helps people getting their work done (rather than breaking people down).

Sometimes I wonder whether we are slaves of our own perceptions. And by that I invite you to ask yourself certain questions. Are you really sure that that deadline is crucial and non-negotiable? Are you certain you can’t ask for help? Do you really think that you would lose your job if you said you need to delegate certain tasks?  And do you have to stay in a job you don’t like – are you sure there aren’t other options in life?

What would life be like if you had less money, slower speed and more time?

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