The Atlantic

Why Your To-Do List Never Ends

For many Americans, there’s more to do, and less mental bandwidth with which to do it.
Source: Alex Merto

A common 21st-century complaint is that life didn’t used to be as busy as it is today, but some people are more likely to think so than others. According to Liana Sayer, the director of the University of Maryland’s Time Use Laboratory, many Americans who are employed, married, a parent, or a college graduate feel shorter on time today than people in those situations did several decades ago. Working mothers and shift workers feel particularly crunched.

Overall, feelings of busyness , so this is hardly the case for everyone. But two developments that are making a substantial group of Americans busier, Sayer explained, are that a larger share of the country now takes on the combined “social roles” of worker, spouse, and parent, and that the expectations of each have risen. Increases in busyness, she told me, are a matter of “both feeling like there’s more [to do and] feeling that you have to ‘be the best

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