Why we feel overloaded, and can it be fixed?

The real source of our frustration is signaling with "face time." 

People — and not only at work — get insulted if they are dealt with in peremptory fashion, even when the issue at hand can be resolved quickly.  Imagine a visiting professor comes to give a seminar, but you can’t find time for lunch.  Lunch would have been chit-chat anyway, but now the professor feels you don’t value his research  — or him — very much.  Can you imagine such vanity?  And if others perceive your time as important, they want it all the more.

What are some possible solutions to this problem?  After all, a day has only twenty-four hours and your face has (one hopes) only one side.

1. Pretend that some other privilege you offer (hand kisses? birthday cards?) is extremely costly to you.  Offer this other privilege in lieu of large amounts of time.

2. Pretend to be busier than you are.  Let people believe — perhaps truthfully — that everyone else receives even less time.

3. Pretend your time is unimportant.  (NB: This may involve dressing down.)  The hope is that no one will feel slighted if they don’t get much time.  Who feels slighted not to be given free thumb tacks?  But there exists another equilibrium, in which the neglected person feels all the more insulted.  After all, you are not giving away even your crummy low-value time.

4. Tell people you are autistic, or that you have Asperger’s syndrome.

I await your suggestions in the comments.


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