In this week’s reading test we are going to use The Guardian article 10 ways to feel less busy to practise the heading-matching kind of task.
Match the headings A-H below with their corresponding paragraph 1-6. There are two headings you don’t need to use.
A - Accept defeat
B - Build up walls
C - Give your time away
D - Practise strategic incompetence
E - Respect your rhythms
F - Slow down
G - Stop feeling proud about how busy you are
H- Try to-do lists
10 ways to feel less busy
“There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs,” said the economist Thomas Sowell – meaning that with resources such as time or money, spending some of it on one thing always means not spending it on something else. It’s literally impossible to get everything done – time is limited; “everything” isn’t – and that’s great news, because it means you needn’t feel guilty for failing. You can turn, instead, on the far more manageable question of which things to deliberately not to do. The vacuuming? The weekly meeting that nobody cares about? Start from the assumption that something’s got to go, and focus on figuring out what.
If you want more productivity from a machine or a computer, you just run it for more hours, and it’s tempting to assume that humans are the same. But in fact, we’re creatures of pace: two hours of intense work, when you’re at your most focused and refreshed, can be vastly more worthwhile than six when you’re feeling exhausted. If you have the flexibility, organise your day so that the most important matters get your best time, not necessarily the most time.
In office jobs, there’s one way to avoid being given certain time-consuming tasks: develop a reputation for being rubbish at them. Act as if you don’t understand and panick around the stuck coffee machine, or a frozen computer, and you’ll soon find nobody asks you to deal with it next time around.
When you’re doing things quickly, it seems sensible to keep your time, saving as many minutes as possible. Yet research on the experience of time suggests we’ve got things wrong: a better way to gain a sense of “time abundance” is to be generous with your time, for example through volunteering. The explanation for this curious effect, researchers speculate, may be the feelings of self-efficacy caused by the voluntary work: successfully do something useful, and you’ll be subconsciously reassured of your capabilities, making you more confident about the chances of getting more useful things done in future.
The last thing you want to hear when you’ve got lots of tasks to do is that cultivating patience might be part of the solution. But our urgency-addicted culture is at the centre of the busyness problem, according to the addiction researcher Stephanie Brown. We’re convinced that with just a bit more speed we could stay in control. When you’re already on this urgency dynamics, it can feel painful to try to go slowly – but you may end up getting more done if you try. Experiment with doing nothing at all for 10 minutes between tasks: the harder that feels, the more you may need it.
Complaining about how busy you are is “pretty obviously pride disguised as a complaint,” in the words of the essayist Tim Kreider: “Your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.” But the truth is that all that pride probably makes you feel even busier, because we believe the things we tell ourselves, while making others feel rushed, too. And if you insist that, no, you’re genuinely that busy… well, are you sure you can spare the time to be complaining about it?
1A 2E 3D 4C 5F 6G