We’ve all heard the lament and most likely have verbalized it ourselves. When you ask about a colleague’s well-being, you often hear how busy he or she is. And not just busy, but really busy. Our busyness has become a point of pride, perhaps as a subtle way of demonstrating our value. In many ways, busy has become synonymous with success.
The goal of Americans hasn’t always been to be busy. In the 1950s, artists illustrated the future as a world where technology would enable a leisurely life; mechanization would mean fewer menial tasks. Better cooking and cleaning devices, and personal robots, would make life easier at home. But the advent of Siri, Cortana, Alexa and other digital assistants does not seem to be easing anyone’s workload. Instead, our smart phones and tablets keep us connected more than ever, with the ability to telecommute and work even after the office has closed. Many people feel compelled to text, tweet and snap 24/7, from both work and home.
Over the past few years, Americans have been working more, as a 2014 Gallup poll1 showed U.S. adults typically worked 47 hour each week, and nearly four in 10 said they work at least 50 hours. Americans increasingly are retiring later and taking fewer vacation days, a 2016 study2 indicates. Plus more people over age 65 are delaying retirement and continuing to work into later years. The same study found that Americans work almost 25% more hours than Europeans do.
There are varying theories about why we are working more, from Americans’ desire to keep up with the Joneses to the possibility that hard work can translate into becoming the next Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk. Time is money, after all, and the American dream requires funding. Whatever the reason, it seems we are increasingly money-rich and time-poor.
The extra time at work — or spent on work — may leave fewer hours for cooking, cleaning and other household tasks. As such, meal kit delivery services are a growing industry that takes the shopping and complication out of cooking gourmet meals. Similarly, fast casual restaurants combine the convenience of fast food with better quality ingredients and a more inviting sit-down dining experience, and comprise the strongest growing segment of the restaurant industry.3 In addition to cooking, we continue to find ways to combine multiple tasks or conduct aspects of our lives more quickly all the time, from e-banking and hands-free calling from our cars to sending emails instead of handwritten cards, not to mention robotic vacuums for easy cleaning.
In terms of investing, how can you capitalize on this trend of increased busyness? D.A. Davidson’s professionals suggest considering any product or service that helps with our desire to work faster, ranging from office software for increased productivity to business networking companies. Additionally, retailers who provide online channels geared toward busy lives (such as easy access to personal shoppers) show promise. The busyness epidemic may point to a strong reason for overloaded professionals to work alongside financial professionals who can help them invest for the future because, realistically, how many Americans actually have time to conduct thorough research into investment vehicles themselves? A financial advisor can help you seek respite from your hectic life and develop a plan that makes managing your finances simple, so you can spend your valuable time on the things that matter most.
Information contained herein has been obtained by sources we consider reliable, but is not guaranteed, and we are not soliciting any action based upon it. Any opinions expressed are those of the author and based on interpretation of data available at the time of original publication of this article. These opinions are subject to change at any time without notice. Investors should consult their financial and/or tax advisor before implementing any investment plan.