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GOING TOO FAST TO HAVE A BLAST

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July 2004
GOING TOO FAST TO HAVE A BLAST

Are you always in a rush? Do you find yourself racing from task to task, wishing you had more time? Does your ?things to do' list, scribbled in a hurry, include items such as "defrost my spouse" and "make love to the refrigerator"?

If the answer to those questions is "yes," you might want to skip the rest of this column. I mean, can you really afford the time? It might take you three whole minutes ? and imagine what else you could accomplish: calling an important client, reviewing a vital report, or taking your daily dose of relaxation pills. (Thank God for the Internet. You didn't have time to visit your usual doctor, so you consulted one in Calcutta.)

Truth be told, many of us are living fast-paced lives, trying to squeeze so much activity into every day that we barely have time to notice the roses, let alone smell them. The faster the better, we tell ourselves, as we dash through our packed schedules, even searching for ways to date faster. It's called speed-dating, lasting just a few minutes and often leading to speed-marriage, not to mention speed-divorce.

"I'm always doing things fast," bragged one American man. "I eat fast food, drive fast cars, and make fast money."

"He's even fast in bed," added his wife.

Unfortunately, there are just 24 hours in every day and the only way to find more time, I've discovered, is to put cheap batteries in your clocks. But the time constraints haven't stopped people from trying to achieve more. They just perform several tasks at once, a practice known as multi-tasking. It happens frequently on the highway: People drive their cars while speaking on cell phones, applying makeup, eating lunch, reading a magazine, and doing yoga. (If evolution continues as expected, humans will eventually turn into octopuses.)

Multi-tasking is nothing new, of course. It goes back to at least 1492, when Italian explorer Christopher Columbus tried to steer his ship while eating a large pepperoni pizza. Now you know why he couldn't find his way to India. (And for that, they named a city after him. It's called Bonehead, Colorado.)

Our fast-paced life may make us feel ultra-efficient, but it can be harmful to our work, health and relationships, according to Carl Honor�, the London-based author of "In Praise of Slowness," a book that explains the benefits of slowing down. Slower is often better, says Honor�, and he illustrates this by taking readers to Italy and other parts of the world where slowness is catching on, albeit slowly.

Imagine yourself enjoying a leisurely lunch, savoring an unhurried walk in the park, delighting in the snail-paced line at the post office. But before you can welcome such slowness into your life, you need to admit you have a problem. Here are just a few signs that your life is too hectic:

---You have nightmares about losing your appointment book, but none about losing your children.

---You bought a book called "Time Management," but haven't found the time to read it.

---You're attracted to the concept of speed-dating, as well as speed-reading and speed-breathing.

---You like anything with the word "express" in it, always taking the "express lane" at the grocery store, servicing your car at the "express lube," ordering goods by "express delivery," and paying for it all with American Express. You love to say, "Express service please," which sometimes gets you kicked out of the bedroom.


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