Dogs and Rats Disagree about Time Management

Whenever anyone asks how I’m doing these days, my answer is always, “I’m as busy as a rat.” Let’s contrast that to a similar statement that I never use: “I’m working like a dog.”

Rats are always busy. Whether it’s chewing on whatever is chewable in their environment or rearranging items from one side of their world to another, rats can always find something important to do. They work at something all the time. They work until they can’t, they take a bath (rats are very clean), and then they sleep until morning. Unless, of course, they can’t sleep, in which case they run on their exercise wheel, chew on whatever is chewable in their environment, or rearrange items from one side of the world to another. And it all feels very important and necessary, whether it is or not.

So yes, I am always as busy as a rat. No matter how important/not important my to-do list may be, it feels important to me. My daily to-do list is a week long, and I often wake up at two a.m. with my heart pounding, worried over some item I may have neglected to do, or God forbid, done incorrectly.

I try to make friend-time a priority, so I schedule fun with friends at specific days and times. (Because if it’s not on the calendar, it won’t happen.) But as the meetup time approaches, I often worry that I should be knocking out something on my to-do list instead. Up until the very minute it is time to head out the door to participate in some fun activity, I contemplate the possibility of calling my friends and telling them I can’t come because I am too busy.

Dogs, on the other hand, even working dogs, know how to have fun. They may work hard, but to dogs, even work is play. And when they’re done working/playing, they don’t mind fitting in a nap or two, because every dog knows that the more you sleep during the day—as long as you play hard for a while too—the better you’ll sleep all night long.

So unfortunately, I don’t work like a dog. I just stay busy like a rat.

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