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【双语】你为什么会感觉这么忙?

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千缘 发表于 2019-11-28 02:02:24 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
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在这个快节奏的时代,每个人似乎都忙个不停:工作时忙得四脚朝天,下了班还要用手机刷新闻、听播客或是处理短

信、邮件,一分钟都不愿停歇。当忙碌渐渐成为生活的常态,我们的心态也随之发生改变:有人觉得自己的事情多到做不完,停下就是浪费时间;也有人觉得越忙越说明自己是个人物,越说明自己的生活有价值、有意义。然而,事实果真如此么?





Few facts about modern life seem more indisputable than how busy everyone seems to be. Across the industrialised world, large numbers of survey respondents tell researchers they’re overburdened with work, at the expense of time with family and friends. And it’s possible that the most overwhelmed people weren’t even asked how they felt: According to one ingenious 2014 study, one major reason people decline to take part in surveys is … that they feel too busy.

关于现代生活,最无可辩驳的一个事实是:每个人似乎都忙得不可开交。在所有实现了工业化的地区,大批的调查受访者告诉研究人员,他们背负的工作压力过大,牺牲掉了自己与家人和朋友相处的时间。而那些工作压力最大的人们,可能根本没有被问及他们的感受:2014年一项设计巧妙的研究表明,人们谢绝参加调查的主要原因之一就是……他们觉得自己太忙了。

You might assume the explanation was straightforward: We feel so much busier these days because we’ve got so much more to do. But you’d be wrong. The total time people are working—whether paid or otherwise—has not increased in Europe or North America in recent decades. Modern parents who worry they’re spending insufficient time with their children spend significantly more of it than those in generations past. “The headline changes over the last 50 years are that women do a whole lot less unpaid work, and a whole lot more paid work, and men do quite a bit less paid work, and a whole lot more unpaid work,” says Jonathan Gershuny, of the Centre for Time Use Research at Oxford University. But “the total amounts of work are pretty much exactly the same.” What’s more, the data also shows that the people who say they’re the busiest generally aren’t.

你也许会觉得这种现象背后的原因非常简单明了:我们觉得如今比过去忙得多,是因为我们如今要做的事情比过去多得多。但是你设想的这个答案可能是错的。无论是在欧洲还是北美,人们投入劳动(不管这些劳动有偿还是无偿)的总时间在最近几十年中并没有延长。现代父母常担心自己没有足够的时间与子女相处,但他们在这方面所花费的时间比过去年代的父母们要多得多。“在过去的50年中,新闻标题的变化显示,女性从事的无偿劳动大幅减少,有偿劳动大幅增加,而男性从事的有偿劳动大幅减少,无偿劳动大幅增加,”牛津大学时间使用研究中心的乔纳森·格尔舒尼如是说。但是“总劳动量其实没什么变化”。此外,数据还显示,那些说自己最忙碌的人通常并非如此。



What’s going on? Part of the answer is simple economics. As economies grow, and the incomes of the better-off have risen over time, time has literally become more valuable: Any given hour is worth more, so we experience more pressure to squeeze in more work. But it’s also a result of the kind of work in which many of us are engaged. In former eras, dominated by farming or manufacturing, labour could certainly be physically punishing—but it obeyed certain limits. You can’t harvest the crops before they’re ready; you can’t make more physical products than the available material allows.

这是怎么回事呢?其中一个原因纯粹是经济方面的。随着经济的发展,富裕人群的收入逐渐增长起来,时间也随之变得更值钱了:每小时的价值增加了,所以当我们往单位时间里塞进更多的工作时,就会感受到更多的压力。此外,这也是我们许多人所从事的工作类型所造成的。从前,人们主要从事农业或制造业,这种劳动通常都非常耗费体力,但却会受到一定的限制:庄稼成熟前,你无法进行收割;能获得多少原材料,决定了你能制造出多少商品。

But in the era of what management consultant Peter Drucker called “knowledge work,” that’s changed. We live in an “infinite world,” says Tony Crabbe, author of the book Busy: How to Thrive in a World of Too Much. There are always more incoming emails, more meetings, more things to read, more ideas to follow up—and digital mobile technology means you can easily crank through a few more to-do list items at home, or on holiday, or at the gym. The result, inevitably, is feeling overwhelmed: We’re each finite human beings, with finite energy and abilities, attempting to get through an infinite amount. We feel a social pressure to “do it all,” at work and at home, but that’s not just really difficult; it’s a mathematical impossibility.

但是在这个被管理顾问彼得·德鲁克(现代管理学之父,代表作包括《德鲁克论管理》(Drucker on Management)、《21世纪的管理挑战》(Management Challenges for 21st Century)等)称为“知识型工作”的时代,情况发生了改变。《纷繁世界:游刃有余》一书的作者托尼•克拉布曾说,我们生活在一个“无限的世界”。总会有更多的未读邮件、更多的会议、更多要读的东西、更多要跟进的思想——而数字移动技术意味着你可以在家中、假期或健身房里,轻松地迅速搞定更多待办清单里的事项。其结果难免就变成你总是觉得事情太多:我们每个人都是有限度的凡人,精力和能力都有限,却试图完成无限的事。无论是在工作中还是在家庭中,我们都会感受到要求“全部做完”的社会压力。但这并非仅仅是难以完成的问题,这是一个从数学角度而言不可能完成的任务。



With that kind of time pressure weighing us down, it’s hardly surprising that we live with one eye on the clock. But psychological research demonstrates that this kind of time-awareness actually leads to worse performance. So the ironic consequence of the “busy feeling” is that we handle our to-do lists less well than if we weren’t so rushed.  The economist Sendhil Mullainathan and the behavioural scientist Eldar Shafir describe this as a problem of “cognitive bandwidth”: Feelings of scarcity, whether money or time, prey on (折磨) the mind, thereby impairing decision-making. When you’re busy, you’re more likely to make poor time-management choices—taking on commitments you can’t handle, or prioritising trifling tasks over crucial ones. A vicious spiral kicks in: Your feelings of busyness leave you even busier than before.

这种时间压力简直要把我们压垮,所以我们在生活中总是记挂着时间的流逝也就不足为奇了。但是心理学研究表明,这种对于时间的在意实际上会导致更差的工作表现。所以这种“忙碌感”所带来的讽刺性后果是,我们如果不是这么急匆匆的话,会将待办清单里的事项处理得更好。经济学家森德希尔·穆莱纳桑和行为科学家埃尔达尔·沙菲尔将这种现象描述为“认知带宽”问题:稀缺感——无论缺少的是金钱还是时间——会令人十分苦恼,从而影响人们做出明智的决定。当你很忙碌时,你更有可能做出糟糕的时间管理选择:做出你根本兑现不了的承诺,或是将鸡毛蒜皮的小事排在至关重要的大事前面。由此,一个恶性循环开始了:你的忙碌感使你变得比以前更忙了。  

Arguably worst of all, this mindset spreads to infect our leisure time—so that even when life finally does permit an hour or two for recuperation (恢复), we end up feeling like that ought to be spent “productively,” too.

最坏的结果可能是,这种心态会蔓延至我们的空闲时间。于是即使在生活终于容许我们花一两个小时喘口气时,我们也会觉得应该把这些时间过得更加“多产”一些。

“The most pernicious (有害的) thing [is] this tendency we have to apply productivity to realms of life that should, by their very nature, be devoid of that criterion,” argues Maria Popova, who runs the popular ideas blog Brain Pickings. She watched it happen with one of her own hobbies: photography. “In my past life, I walked around everywhere with a professional camera,” she says. “But now the sharing”—the idea that the reason for taking photos is to post them on Facebook or Instagram—“has become its own burden.”

广受欢迎的观点博客“智慧拾萃”的博主玛利亚·波波娃认为:“最糟糕的一点是,我们倾向于将高产原则应用到生活中那些本就不该用高产来衡量的领域中。”她自己的爱好之一摄影就受到了这种倾向的影响。“过去,我无论走到哪儿,都要带着专业相机。”她说。“但是现在,分享照片”——所谓拍照的目的就是为了将它们发到Facebook或Instagram上的想法——“本身已经成为了一种负担。”



If there’s a solution to the busyness epidemic, other than the universal enforcement of a 21-hour workweek—it may lie in clearly perceiving just how irrational our attitudes have become. Historically, the ultimate symbol of wealth, achievement and social superiority was the freedom not to work: the true badge of honour, as the 19th Century economist Thorstein Veblen put it, was leisure. Now, it’s busyness that has become the indicator of high status. “The best-off in our society are often very busy, and have to be,” says Gershuny. “You ask me, am I busy, and I tell you: ‘Yes, of course I’m busy—because I’m an important person!’”

如果要为这种极为盛行的忙碌病症寻找一种解决方案,除了普遍实施每周21小时的工作制以外,其解决方法可能在于清晰地看到我们这种态度已经变得多么不理性。在历史上,财富、成就和社会优越地位的终极象征就是拥有无需工作的自由:用19世纪经济学家索尔斯坦·维布伦(,美国经济学巨匠、制度经济学鼻祖,代表作为《有闲阶级论》(The Theory of the Leisure Class))的话来讲,真正的荣誉勋章就是“有闲”。而如今,忙碌已经成了崇高地位的指针。“我们社会上最富足的人们通常也是最忙碌的人们,这种忙碌身不由己,”格尔舒尼说道,“你如果问我:‘你忙吗?’我会告诉你:‘是的,我当然很忙——因为我是个重要人物!’”

To see how absurd it is to value sheer activity in this manner, consider a story told by the behavioural economist Dan Ariely, about a locksmith he once met. Early in his career, the locksmith “was just not that good at it: it would take him a really long time to open the door, and he would often break the lock,” Ariely says. Still, people were happy to pay his fee and throw in (额外奉送) a tip. As he got better and faster, though, they complained about the fee, and stopped tipping. You’d think they would value regaining access to their house or car more swiftly. But what they really wanted was to see the locksmith putting in the time and effort—even if it meant a longer wait.

为了说明这种只看重事情多少的做法有多荒谬,现在让我们来看看行为经济学家丹·艾瑞里所讲的有关他遇到过的一位锁匠的故事。刚入门时,这位锁匠“手艺并不好:他要花很长很长的时间才能打开门,而且经常把锁弄坏”,艾瑞里说。尽管如此,人们还是乐意付给他钱,还会额外给小费。但是,当他的开锁技术变得更好、更快以后,人们却开始抱怨收费太贵,而且也不给小费了。你本以为人们会更看重能够更快回到房子或车子里。但是他们真正想看到的,是锁匠投入了时间和精力——即使这意味着要等更长时间。

Too often, we take a similar attitude not only to other people, but ourselves: We measure our worth not by the results we achieve, but by how much of our time we spend doing. We live frenetic (狂热的) lives, at least in part, because it makes us feel good about ourselves. To put it mildly (说得婉转些), this makes no sense. Perhaps we’d pause long enough to realise that—if we weren’t so damn busy.

我们不仅常常抱着相似的态度来对待他人,还常常以此来对待自己:我们并不以自己所取得的成就来衡量自己的价值,而是以我们所花费时间的多少来衡量。我们过着疯狂忙碌的生活,至少部分原因是因为这让我们自我感觉良好。说得婉转一点,这种想法毫无道理。也许,我们停下来久一些就会明白这一点——如果我们不总是那么匆匆忙忙的话。



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