Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Hurry sickness’ is actually wasting our time


Before you even start reading this article, find a piece of paper – printer paper, notebook paper or any other sheet about that size.

Now write all the things you do while procrastinating or getting sidetracked during homework or other important tasks. These could include going on Facebook, checking email or making food. List these common distractions so when you’re done, you can rip off each word into a separate little piece.

Think of the full sheet of paper as a daily task. What you’re left with after ripping the individual pieces shows how much time you waste while trying to complete this task.

That really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

When I did this activity, I had about one-fifth of a sheet of printer paper left. That is an incredible amount of time wasted on silly things. This made me realize that I need to learn how to prioritize my time and cure myself of “hurry sickness.”

Interestingly enough, by definition of hurry sickness, those who have it – which is most of us – should not be procrastinators. Rosemary K.M. Sword, in Psychology Today, describes hurry sickness as “a behavior pattern characterized by continual rushing and anxiousness; an overwhelming and continual sense of urgency” and “a malaise in which a person feels chronically short of time, and so tends to perform every task faster and to get flustered when encountering any kind of delay.”

Sometimes it feels like there are just not enough hours in the day, so there is no time to lose. This leads to the need to speed on the highway, rush around or even talk quickly. But then when trying to actually sit down and study, many of us think, “There’s a Facebook post I need to respond to” or, “My inbox has 15 emails I need to look at.”

Before you know it, two hours go by. Two hours that you tried to save earlier by not fully enjoying every moment of the day.

Technological devices have been invented to try to help us. “Clothes dryers that steam the wrinkles out, dishwashers that clean not only the dishes but also the pots and pans, drive-throughs that wash and wax the car, toaster ovens and microwaves to warm up pre-packaged dinner and robotic vacuums that suck up dirt off rugs and dust bunnies on floors,” Sword writes.

“All of these valuable time savers are meant to give us more spare time – which we rebranded and upgraded to ‘leisure’ time (available time for ease and relaxation). Unfortunately – and ironically – for all these hi-tech wonders, we have less and less spare time.”

USA Today conducted a national survey that showed most people ages 18 to 33 feel busier every year. Maybe it’s because of the constant technological interruptions that we feel obligated to tend to before our first priority obligations. This creates a downward spiral toward distraction doom.

Once thrown off track, it can take around 23 minutes for a worker to return to his or her original task, Gloria Mark told the Wall Street Journal. Mark is a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, who studies digital distraction.

If it takes 20 to 25 minutes to regain focus, some people don’t even get back to their original objective because they get sidetracked again before that amount of time goes by.

I personally categorize my daily tasks into school, personal care, social and time-wasters, and found that my personal care category had the longest list. However, each task requires only a short period of time, such as showering and brushing my teeth. These tasks are naturally scheduled at this point as I’ve been taking care of my personal hygiene all my life.

I question why it is that I can make time for those small responsibilities, eating, hanging out with friends and checking social media, but not for strictly concentrating or relaxing.

It’s a wake-up call – literally. I spend so much time doing things during the day that it makes it difficult to wake up in the morning because I’m so tired. We need to learn to take a breath and schedule relaxation time the same way we plan everything else in the day.

Relaxation might mean watching television for one person while it translates to reading or meditating for another. Whatever the preference though, it would be for the benefit of all to make time for these exercises.

If we waste so much time on a daily basis, I would rather spend that time doing something enjoyable instead of regretting it at the end of the day.

Karen Podorefsky is a Collegian Columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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