Friday, December 10, 2010
Have You Got a Few Minutes?
Why? The statistics cannot explain it. For more than 40 years the federal Bureau of Labor and Statistics has had a range of Americans keep time diaries of how we spend our days. A few years ago we learned that we have about as much “non-work” time as “work” time. Now there are people definitely running on empty – single parents holding down two or more jobs and raising kids... employees working extra to keep from being the ones laid off, and folks taking care of elderly parents (as well as their spouses and children) – to name just a few. BUT most of us do NOT fall into those categories.
The average American spends 9 hours at work, 8 hours asleep, and 7 hours “off” of work. So what do we do with those 7 hours “off” that keeps us so busy? Turns out TV absorbs a big chunk, so does the internet (you are reading my blog, right, and there are more than 150 million blogs out there and every day 150-175,000 more begin)... and cell phones... ordinary chores barely take up an hour (heating up food in the microwave, housework, laundry, etc.).
Most of us can’t even tell you how we got so busy – when you drive through Utah going 80 mph you hardly notice because there is nothing to see but when you try to read a road sign and its just a blur – then you notice. Busy means important to us. Not being busy often means not important. We keep ourselves busy to keep ourselves feeling important. It is a badge of honor to be busy and a shameful admission to have free time. Being busy has become a status symbol.
The Girl Scouts can earn a “Less Stress” merit badge for learning how to manage their busy lives. Businesses are teaching employees how to manage time. Rachel Ray teaches us how to cook 30 minute meals.
If you find yourself tired but not necessarily productive... if you find yourself weary but empty at the end of the day... if you find yourself mixing personal and work time... take minute to think reflectively on what you are doing with your time. If the story of your life is only how busy you are, it is not such a great story. It is time for us to consider if our lives are really that demanding or whether we have chosen to make them so demanding... and turn off the cell phone for a while... turn off the TV for a while... check the email tomorrow... wait to run errands until they accumulate into a list of things to do... and create a better story for our lives.
Genesis 2:1-3 . . . When heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them, on the seventh day God rested on the seventh day... So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. If God who holds us and all things in His hand can find time to rest, can we not also slow down our busy lives?