As much as I appreciate you reading this, I have to question if you really should. I mean, after all it is coming through an email, probably on company time. Or maybe you’re reading it through your email at home, and then I am successfully invading your personal time. Or am I? Time is a tricky thing. We think we’re either on someone else’s or our own all of our lives, but we never stop to think about slowing it down to just “take time.”
A few years ago, slow food taught us that sometimes it is worth it to take the time to do something the right way, and the recession taught us that the “old way” of doing things can be quite rewarding for many. So how do you really feel about time these days? Is your lunch break, day off, or vacation really “taking time to get away and slow down” or is it “taking time to keep it from going to something else?”
56% of working Americans do some work at home outside of normal hours and 20% work on something at home every night. 36% don’t use all their vacation time and for part-time employees, it’s even higher. And even outside of the workforce, we’re finding the side effects of hyper-life. Studies show that after five or more years of being an active, working mother, women have a higher depression rate, because they reflect on those years as being busy, but not being with their kids.
Research shows us that people who live in rural areas have a healthier mental state, because their surroundings give them time to absorb and plan; instead of thinking the way their urban counterparts do, which is said to be absorb and react. Even the sight of green grass has been shown to change the way people think—it makes them breathe lighter and pause for a moment.
We’re also finding that more and more people are feeling a backlash toward time and commitments. The hyper-life that we’ve become accustomed to and heralded as an effective, time-saving way of life is getting dull. The decline of multitasking is slow, but ever increasing.
While average people continue to think about what their time is worth, businesses are too. Getaway vacations for the broken-hearted are now a niche market. Hammock sales are up, because the rocking motion helps people get more out of their sleep, and time itself is being heralded as the new ultra-luxury.
Everything from slow cruises, slow cooking, slow tourism and slow localism is breaking out into mainstream culture. Slowly, of course, but it is happening.
But at the end of the day we have to ask ourselves if we really want the luxury of free time. I mean, after all we have Facebook®, Netflix® and FarmVille to keep us plenty busy. Would we be willing to give up social media, constant connectivity and entertainment for the sake of being at peace? I’ll let you know as soon as I finish updating my Facebook status to “doing some thought-provoking writing.”