Letters from the dorm: Are we really so busy?

By Isabel Lai, Durham University, UK
By Isabel Lai, Durham University, UK |

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Does this scenario sound familiar to you? It is 9pm. You have some work due in tomorrow morning and you haven't made a start. You can feel the adrenalin. Your heart starts pounding. You say to yourself: why have I left it this late?

Depending on the length of the work ahead of you, you may be expecting to pull an all-nighter. This means staying up the entire night without any sleep. This is dreadful news for your body, but you have to meet the deadline. Never mind that you knew this work was due three months ago.

I recently read an article about how busy we are. Sociologist John Robinson says most of us are a lot less busy than we say we are. His research shows most people have 30 to 40 hours of free time per week. We probably forget to mention all those hours scrolling through Facebook or playing Candy Crush.

"It's very popular, the feeling that there are too many things going on, that people can't get control of their lives," Robinson says.

Another researcher, Ann Burnett, argues that saying we are busy is a way of displaying status. Society seems to think that if you are busy, you must be important.

But I don't think busy people are always important people. In my case, I am usually busy catching up with work I should have done a long time ago. Being busy could just be a sign of poor time management.

Perhaps if we spend less time telling people how stressed we are, we could spend more time actually getting things done.

I guess there is no better way to avoid an all-nighter than to get our act together. The question is will I remember to do this next time? Probably not.