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Apodaca: Finding time to realize why we're so busy

January 11, 2014|By Patrice Apodaca

I'm not big on new year's resolutions but one thing I'm pretty much always resolving to do is manage my time better.

Superior time management skills are considered essential in our fast-paced modern lives but few of us seem to be naturally gifted in this department. We search for wisdom from organizational gurus and churn with envy over those few uber-successful individuals who claim to get so much done because they need only four hours of sleep each night.

If I got just four hours sleep a night I'd really have to reorganize my time so I'd be able to take a five-hour nap every day.

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These days we all seem to be in a competition to pack our schedules as tightly as possible. Then somehow we find time in our hectic days to complain at great length to each other about how busy we are. We show up late for meetings with long-winded, breathless explanations: Our dog got sick, our kids forgot their homework, the plumbing exploded, the garage door jammed, the hamster got loose, and, of course, the all-time favorite go-to excuse, the traffic was crazy.

Many of us even seem to take pride in how rushed we are, as if our level of busyness is a status symbol, a sign of how coveted and precious our time is compared with others. Or, as one friend likes to say, "She's just so busier than thou."

But here's the thing: None of it's real. Truth is, we're not nearly as busy and time-challenged as we like to think.

Or, more precisely, we are busy, but only because we choose to fill our time with all kinds of nonessential — some might say nonsensical — activities.

Think about it. Every day we engage in really important stuff: working, eating and sleeping. Beyond the basics lie a host of choices we make that fill the hours and days. If we feel harried and harassed, it's often due to all the extras we've piled on. We rush from this activity to that appointment to this other commitment that we regret having made but now feel pressed to fulfill. Rat, meet treadmill.

The question shouldn't be, "How does she do it all?" It's more appropriate to ask, "Why does she do it all?"

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