If you want to get things done, pause


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Taking time out is crucial. Don’t fill up your whole day and you can kickstart a new sense of rhythm

Machines work well at a constant speed – and the faster the better. They are designed and built for it. Whether they are spinning cotton or crunching numbers, regular, repetitive actions are what they excel at. Increasingly, our world is designed by machines, for machines. Digital technology brings them ever more intimately into our lives. We hold our phones in the palm of our hand, but it is they that have us in their grasp. We adapt to machines and hold ourselves to their standards: people are judged by the speed with which they respond, not the quality of their response. We find ourselves in a state of “continuous partial attention” – rarely stopping, never fully present. Such ideas are being woven into our culture. “Always on” becomes something to boast of, or aspire to. The moral high ground belongs to those who get on with things, not those who “delay”.

Most of us are busy most of the time, if not with work then with family, domestic tasks or our social networks – real and virtual. When I ask people how they are, they almost always answer “busy” or some variation of it. Busy-ness is high status. We feel we are being “sensible, logical, responsible, practical”. Ticking things off the “to do” list becomes a means of defining, or escaping ourselves. Faced with that anxiety we try to keep calm by carrying on, but what are we missing out on?

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Read more: theguardian.com

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