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A life too busy

We are living in a world that is fast-paced, achievement-focussed and for many of us, in a world where our performance is evaluated by other people. How do we cope? Could Micro-scheduling be the answer?

The extent to which these pressures have influenced our lives is manifested in the new fad of micro-scheduling. Micro-scheduling involves scheduling things to the minute, for example; 6am – wake up, 6:05am boil water, while water is boiling check e-mails, and this list then goes on to fill the entire day. Some people say it has changed their lives dramatically and has reduced their stress levels, whereas some mental health practitioners believe this to be a form of self-bulling.

In my opinion, micro-scheduling could be beneficial for certain individuals that have that personality make-up, whereas more spontaneous individuals would find it cramping and experience a sense of unease. Also, what happens when things change, how does that affect your scheduling? South Africa also has its own challenges such as load shedding, severe traffic and inconsistent public transport systems, which will make micro-scheduling very challenging. Micro-scheduling and normal scheduling are different. Normal scheduling, which can be done through apps like Google Calendar, which accommodates for changes and is not done down to the minute, can be very effective. One thing I have noticed when looking at my client’s schedules, is that most of them schedule important events, meetings etc, but they rarely schedule time for themselves, to do the things that make them fulfilled, or schedule time in to be with their spouses, friends or children etc. When our schedule is so externally motivated and directed, in other words, for other people, we are at a bigger risk of burnout. So scheduling, should be done in a mindful way. What do I need to do today, what are my personal needs for the day?

What about going through your day, with so many things to do, we end up multi-tasking. There is a common belief that women are better at multi-tasking. This is not necessarily accurate, as they found that anyone can learn to multi-task, however, you have to practice it, and most of these tasks, once practiced, becomes automatic. Think of the first few times you drove your car. Putting the radio on was out of the question, as you needed all of your cognitive resources in order to drive, now it is automatic. So multi-tasking only works with tasks that are automatic. When it comes to work, it is always better to start with one thing, finish it completely, and move on to the next thing.

With so many things to do in a day, how do we prioritise, as we cannot accomplish it all? What are the most important aspects of human life to focus on? Research suggests that the important things in life, the aspects that promote the best overall health, are things that we will never accomplish in a day. These are things that it would be impossible to list, and tick off to say, yes, I have now mastered that. Unfortunately with us as humans, we want a quick fix.

There was a Harvard study done where they tracked the lives of over 800 men from when they were born until present. This study has now been going for the last 70 years. They studied their medical backgrounds, did psychometric assessments, conducted interviews with family members and gathered all the data they could. They would repeat this process every few years to track development. The study aimed to investigate what are the most important aspects of human life that promotes the best overall well-being. The results were shocking and what they found applied to all of their participants. What they found is this: the aspects that creates the best overall well-being is quality and depth of relationships. What they also found, was that loneliness is toxic. This correlates with another study, where they examined what are people’s biggest regrets while on their death beds. You probably guessed it right, the biggest regret we have is “I wish I didn’t work so hard.” This can be frustrating for us to accept, because relationships are messy, not logically quantifiable and is really hard work. So yes, attending your meeting with your boss or meeting deadlines are obviously very important to our careers, and career identity is fundamental to all of us, but we shouldn’t be blinded to the fundamental aspects of being human and that involves relationships.

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