two people seen from train that passes by

Why do we feel busier without actually being busier?

There is no significant increase in time spent on paid work, care, and education in the last decade. However, over 50% of the Dutch find their lives sometimes ‘too busy’, according to Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau (SCP) which looked into the time allocation of 1.893 Dutch people.

So why do (especially higher educated) people feel busier at times? There are multiple reasons. Increasingly, both men and women are working. This often leads to more “rushed moments”; having to pick up kids from school, while being stuck in traffic where you try to finish up something from work. And this also taps into the second reason; we tend to multitask more than before, and those who multitask more frequently report feeling more stressed and pressured. Additionally, although many household tasks have become less time-consuming, they can be done at any time, which causes us to think about them more. The result is that our schedules aren’t necessarily busier, yet our heads are.

Looking at our trends we observe the same tendency. There’s a paradox in which people’s attempt to optimize their time actually makes them feel busier. Illustrative for this is our sports behavior. Nowadays, people are more likely to choose individual sports such as running because it takes less time and they can do it whenever they want to. But at the football club, the training and match times are fixed, and that gives us a routine. Which in turn gives us peace of mind.