One of the most obvious characteristics of our daily lives is that we are busy. We experience our days as filled with things to do, people to meet, projects to finish, letters to write, calls to make, and appointments to keep. Our lives often seem like overpacked suitcases bursting at the seams. In fact, we are almost always aware of being behind schedule. There is a nagging sense that there are unfinished tasks, unfulfilled promises, unrealized proposals. There is always something else that we should have remembered, done, or said. There are always people we did not speak to, write to, or visit. Thus, although we are very busy, we also have a lingering feeling of never really fulfilling our obligations.
The strange thing, however, is that it is very hard not to be busy. Being busy has become a status symbol. People expect us to be busy and to have many things on our minds. Often our friends say to us, "I guess you are busy, as usual," and mean it as a compliment. They reaffirm the general ...1