A Mathematical Impossibility


In former eras, dominated by farming or manufacturing, labor could certainly be physically punishing – but it obeyed certain limits. You can’t harvest the crops before they’re ready; you can’t make more physical products than the available material allows.

But in the era of what management consultant Peter Drucker called “knowledge work”, that’s changed. We live in an “infinite world”, says Tony Crabbe, author of the book Busy: How to Thrive in a World of Too Much. There are always more incoming emails, more meetings, more things to read, more ideas to follow up. And because modern work is often done remotely, Crabbe adds, there’s no clear boundary between when our working day starts and ends. As a result, many of us feel like we’re always on call – and that can be extremely draining.

We're always rushing around these days, trying to get everything done. It seems like there's never enough time in the day to get everything done. And digital mobile technology means we can easily crank through a few more to-do list items at home, or on holiday, or at the gym. The result, inevitably, is feeling overwhelmed: we're each finite human beings, with finite energy and abilities, attempting to get through an infinite amount. We feel a social pressure to "do it all", at work and at home, but that's not just really difficult; it's a mathematical impossibility. With that kind of time pressure weighing us down, it's hardly surprising that we live with one eye on the clock. We're always racing against the clock, trying to beat the clock, trying to make the most of every minute. But what if we stopped living like this? What if we took a step back and looked at our priorities? What if we made time for what's truly important? We might just find that we're happier and more productive when we're not always rushing around.

By Dean Miles

Keywords: Business Continuity, Entrepreneurship, Mental Health

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