Across the industrialized world, large numbers of survey respondents tell researchers they’re overburdened with work, at the expense of time with family and friends.

The total time people are working –whether paid or otherwise– has not increased in Europe or North America in recent decades. What’s more, the data also shows that the people who say they’re the busiest generally aren’t.

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.

The result, inevitably, is feeling overwhelmed: we’re each finite human beings, with finite energy and abilities, attempting to get through an infinite amount.

The ironic consequence of the “busy feeling”is that we handle our to-do lists less well than if we weren’t so rushed.

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.

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, we end up feeling like that ought to be spent “productively”, too.

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.

We live frenetic lives, at least in part, because it makes us feel good about ourselves. Perhaps we’d pause long enough to realise that –if we weren’t so damn busy.