1. The productivity paradox: Complaining about how busy we are has become a standard part of conversations in much of the world, and yet our study shows that fewer than 1 in 3 global respondents always have too much to do, and only 1 in 5 say they’re constantly rushing around. Rather than being overwhelmed, a good portion of the sample (42 percent) admitted that they sometimes pretend to be busier than they actually are—and 6 in 10 believe other people are faking their busyness too. The issue: Free time is now equated with being nonessential. Unless you’re in demand 24/7, you’re not all that important.
2. Times a-wastin’: Social media has been tied to FOMO (fear of missing out), but it also has exacerbated the sense that we’re never accomplishing enough. Nearly 6 in 10 global respondents (including two-thirds of millennials) believe their lives would be better if they were more productive. And around half are laying the blame on themselves, saying they procrastinate or simply waste too much time. It’s hard to feel you’re living a life of meaning when you’ve wasted another morning taking quizzes on BuzzFeed.
3. Can’t sit still: For quite a lot of us, the issue isn’t simply that we feel we should be doing more, but that we no longer know how to be still. Many struggle to relax fully, and around 1 in 5 admit to having trouble focusing on one thing at a time. It’s a serious issue, given that half the sample believe the fast pace of life is actually harming their health.
Amy Wang at Quartz explains:
In a survey of 10,000 adults across various generations in 28 countries, global marketing firm Havas Worldwide partnered with market research company Market Probe International to ask people how technology and connectivity have affected their lives. Perhaps the most illuminative finding: People feel compelled to lie about how busy they are.
When the survey asked to what extent respondents agreed with the statement, “I sometimes pretend to be busier than I am,” roughly half of young people (aged 18 to 34) said they overstate their own busyness to others. Older generations were also prone to exaggerating their obligations, though less so. And overall, 57% to 65% of people across multiple generations said they thought other people were pretending to be busier than they actually are.
The report’s authors suggested that our tendency to lie about how busy we are comes from our belief that being busy is equivalent to “leading a life of significance” and not wanting to be “relegated to the sidelines.” This belief, they found, was paramount in countries that applaud hectic lifestyles, such as Germany and the US, whereas countries known to value leisure above work, like Italy and Belgium, are less convinced that keeping busy is a good thing.
I’m afraid that none of it’s surprising, but all of it’s kind of depressing.