Perhaps the most common source of stress today is time – not enough time – trying to find time – putting a time frame to all the demands that the world seems to put on us; time for our kids, our spouses, ourselves, our careers, friends, rest and relaxation.
Along with a shrinking time frame there is a subtle and sometimes not so subtle expectation that we are to not only accomplish more, produce more, within a shorter period of time, but also improve the quality of our work at the same time.
Competition, the need for constant training and improving skills in new technology, adds an additional layer of stress: will I be let go, will I be outsourced, if I lose my job will I be qualified to find a new job, who will hire me at my age?
The pressure of time also invades our homes. Our kids have more and more options that compete for their time and you are left to decide how many extracurricular things they can do and still focus on school work. Many single parent households struggle with guilt that somehow they are not giving their kids every opportunity.
With all the options and demands on a family, as schedules become more hectic and complex, and as husbands and wives work longer hours and are asked to be more flexible in their jobs, a new norm for family life has emerged.
Members of the family eat their meals as they are dashing out the door, rarely is everyone at the dinner table at the same time and little time is given for discussion outside of demands and expectations. The “leave it to beaver” idealism of former years is replaced with a survival atmosphere with everyone struggling to create a new norm.
At times it seems the world is spinning out of control. We are not only working harder and faster but we are on information overload with a shorter learning curve. There is little time for perspective, teaching values or living principles. We are infected with a time disease.
Time management isn’t just our To Do lists. It isn’t just juggling schedules between family, spouses, church and social activities. It is keeping up with Face Book and Twitter and other social media. It is learning all the new things our smart phones can do. Our phones have become an extension of our fingers. We are lost without that instant access to information we just might need.
Technology is both liberating and enslaving. It isn’t just saying “No” to other people – its saying “No” to ourselves. More options require tougher choices. Speed demands less time to give thought to our decisions.
The marketing ads tell us we can have it all. Can we? The marketing gurus tell us all the latest gadgets will make us happier. Are we? At what point does the culture of speed and gadgets and unlimited options replace our ability to sit down together as a family to have dinner, or spend time listening to our kids concerns? At what point do we slow the world down in our personal lives to live within the principles and values we believe are important and have chosen to live?
©2012 Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC