Why you're so busy




I got about 2/3 of the way through this article, before deciding I had better things to do with my time.


Let’s not forget the working poor and lower income families. Though indications are that the average worker in the U.S. is significantly more productive than at any time in the past, compensation has failed to keep pace with productivity. This results in families where one or both parents work two jobs just to get by. Now those people… they actually are busy as opposed to the pseudo occupied well to do people this article wants to focus on.


The big gap is between exempt (salaried) and non-exempt (hourly) employees. Exempt employees get paid an annual salary no matter how many hours they work, so employers dump as much work on them as they can since there is no marginal cost. Non-exempt workers are paid by the hour, so employers use only as many of their hours as they want to pay for and assiduously avoid using too many hours from any one employee lest they need to provide benefits, or worse, have to pay overtime.

Exempt employees are generally better paid and better educated, so they are more likely to write about their lives and read about the lives of others like them. Those lives, as one might expect for an employee with zero hourly marginal cost, are time crunched. Non-exempt employees tend to lack money, even if they have a decent hourly wage, since their employers limit their hours. If they try to compensate by taking a second job, they quickly become time and money crunched.


That’s not at all how salary works in my state. It is only a guarantee of 40 hours of work per week. If you work more than 40, you get paid overtime like everyone else.


Yes. Sad to see The Economist turning into a lifestyle rag.


Yep. I lasted a bit longer, growing more anxious to get to “something more important” as the minutes passed. I probably didn’t used to be that way.


As an IT professional, I actually started contracting (W2 wages) so I could escape the 24 hour/day work expected of salaried employees. I get paid a lot more hourly if you look at a regular week - but of course I have to fund my time off outta my own pocket and get insurance through my wife.
I never stayed in the office past 8 hours a day, but I used to be on call once a month for a week, get calls at 2am (half the time a bogus alarm) and monitored email constantly. You don’t even realize you’re doing it. I always cleared my PTO every year, though. I’m a big proponent of getting the hell offline for an extended period.
Overall, however, I feel very very fortunate for the life that we have.


What the article doesn’t cover are the ‘always busy always stressed’ people who create that situation for themselves so they’ll always have something to complain about and blame. I know at least two people like this - they’re not actually busy in any sort of useful way, they’re just extremely, purposely bad at budgeting time, and that’s why they can’t do the carpool when it’s their turn or help with the food drive. Oh but go to dinner? Are you buying? Well I guess we can make time for that in between my great american novel and cold fusion experiments… I can spend two hours complaining about how I don’t have time for anything.


Time, after all, is money. Unfortunately, your time (your LIFE) is not renewable. Those who are able to invest enough money in Wall Street to reap more in dividends than can be humanly spent are the ones who have realized that Capitalism is a “slave economy.” Your life-time has become their leisure.


Too true.
Unfortunately(?) I don’t see a way to flip the script and partake of Wall Street’s largess --or rather: how to not lose my soul in the process.


Which state? Generally exempt means exempt, which means no overtime for you. State law can trump this one, like the minimum wage, but I’ve never heard of exempt employees getting overtime. There’s a movement to fix this, but there’s not much steam yet.

I worked 80 hour weeks last month, but I was racking up beaucoups commissions, so I’m not complaining a bit. The rest of the year is slow time.


No. It REALLY is not.

Time exists.

Money is a social arrangement.

Live accordingly.


I’ve been taking time off this past couple of weeks due to injury, so I am seeing what it looks like. It’s weird to not be doing so much. Aren’t there things I should be working on? Today we cleaned out 10 years of clutter from a few closets in our house.

The trick seems to be to eliminate the project clutter. I know a guy who’s done that in his life - it looks a lot more pleasant. It takes a big dose of letting go of obsolete aspirations.


In Texas, a salary alone does not qualify an employee as exempt.


To be fair, Texas is almost always an exception in any scenario of human and/or civil rights.


TIL it doesn’t, anywhere. But a non-exempt salary is close to poverty level these days, because the law hasn’t been updated in forever.


This is why stuff likes high speed rail infuriates me. If we are going to spend that kind of money on transportation in the US, spend it on a reliable, robust bus system. Making poor people wait for buses is not only a terrible economic choice – their time at home, or working an additional hour is very valuable to them and to society – it’s also jus cruel. The wealth that could be created in the inner cities by making the commutes of working poor shorter is quite substantial.


Trains are not bad or unnecessary. A mix is necessary, though the geometrical reality of suburbia speaks toward a need to change property taxes and hookups fees to build cores within strip-mall land. Without that, wingeing about different modes of transit is just an exercise in yak-shaving.


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