I’m busy, I’ll call you back

Aneta Dimovska

I cannot remember when someone complained that there was too much free time, all I hear every day is: “I don’t have time for anything,” or answering to a phone call or a message with: “I’m busy, I’ll call you back…”
Why don’t we have more free time, and why is everyone so busy?!

The economist John Maynard Keynes in 1930 predicted that future generations will work about three hours a day and probably only by choice. We did not achieve the level of three hours a day, but Keynes’s predictions were partly achieved. Due to the economic and technological progress, the paid working hours are shortened, and because of the numerous household appliances, the unpaid hours spent with household duties have also decreased. Today, after almost a century, we work less than our grandparents. However, what we lack is more time.

Ever since the work hours are financially quantified, time has been directly connected to money. Therefore, people see time as money.

Economic theory says that when wages increase, workers are motivated to work more and spend more hours at work, sacrificing part of their free time for extra earnings (substitution effect). When wages are high enough, the effect of income will increase and the workers’ attitude will go in the opposite direction, they will spend less time at work, and demand more free time.

The Increase of the value of working hours puts pressure on free time, so the people that work more in order to spend more, have no time to do that.

Free time has come down to struggle between what to buy or see, what to eat of where to go… Choosing one thing comes as a sacrifice of the other and causes stress. Additionally, the choice is made more complicated by the numerous products and activities that are available, but also the infinite possibilities offered by the Internet. New technology and smart phones create the feeling that more can be done, and wishes and needs can be fulfilled instantly.

In these conditions of struggle for higher earning and quick spending, we often reply with: “I’m busy, I’ll call you back…” is this reply justified in this Macedonian case?

Labor productivity at the level of a national economy measures the value of the gross domestic product produced with one hour of labor. According to the latest data from the European statistical agency Eurostat (referring to 2014), one Macedonian worker in an hour in the country makes only 43.6 percent of the average that his colleagues make on the level of the European Union. Productivity in Macedonia is the lowest in Europe, lower than Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece … This situation will probably stay the same in the years to come, since in 2015, productivity growth of only 1.5 percent was registered, in 2016, 0.3 percent, and in 2017 the productivity of Macedonian workers is reduced (-2.8 percent in the first, -4.0 percent in the second and -2.1 percent in the third quarter).

According to the previous data, Macedonian workers create a much lower real value in one working hour than their European counterparts and, accordingly, they should be less busy. Or … the engagement may be due to the available internet and usage in working hours on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

Vulgarly, very simply, the previous one would suggest that in our country the phrases that refer to occupation should generally be used and that as a state we must seriously consider the taking of essential measures to improve the productivity of labor. Individually, the use would be justified for those most motivated to work, that is, for those who earn the most.

According to a survey by the State Statistical Office, these are persons with higher education and working experience from 15 to 19 years in the Skopje Region. Men earn more than women. The majority earn members of legislative and executive bodies, state officials and diplomats, as well as general, executive and sectoral executives in enterprises. The biggest earnings per hour is registered in the sectors: electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply, financial activities and insurance, information and communications activities and professional, scientific and technical activities.

Thus, the busiest Macedonian is a man aged 40 to 50 years old, in a managerial position in an office in a bank or an electric company in Skopje. Certainly, it may be at a business lunch in one of the elite restaurants on the square “Macedonia”, seemingly focused on the interlocutor, but constantly with one eye on the smartphone that is constantly blinking. He often climbs to follow the message: “I’m busy, I’ll call you back…”

For the rest of the “too busy” people who did not recognize themselves in the previous description … At one time idleness was a status symbol, to have meant to do nothing. Today, busyness, and even the feeling of stress from the same and lack of time, have become status symbols. Being pressed by time is a sign of prosperity, an indicator of social status, and therefore more and more people are inclined to claim that they do not have time.

Honestly, I use “I’m busy, I’ll call you back” every day. Most often, when answering a call from my mother or other close ones. Sometimes more, sometimes less justified, but they will be here later. After all, it may be important to understand that no matter how much the hour is, in the battle with the arrows of the clock we cannot win.

Time is a strange resource, very important when we spend it and we do not have enough, and the highest value when it goes away. After all, it may be important to understand that, along with time, all those calls, missed conversations and the unlived moments, as well as our loved ones, go away.