Fast-paced life necessity in business; people should slow down to enjoy life

The French broke the record for the world’s fastest TGV train Tuesday. According to a Times Online article, the TGV train had been allotted 5 billion euros, in spite of predictions that it would never be profitable.

The train, which got up to 357 mph, did not beat the record 361 mph held by a different type of train from Japan that levitates on magnets but did beat France’s own 1990 TGV train world record of 320 mph.

Having faster transportation available has awesome implications for the travel industry, as travelers are able to go to destinations and back faster than ever, saving them time and money.

On the business side of things, the faster the transportation, the more customers and potential customers can be reached in a shorter amount of time which can potentially increase profits.

This got me thinking about the need for speed.

Ever since I was a little kid, the global need for fast cars, fast planes, fast internet service and even fast food has exponentially increased.

The other day, I bought an automatic shower cleaner, guaranteed to clean my whole shower in less than a minute with the push of a button.

So, I probably could clean the shower in 10 minutes on my own, but now I have that extra time to do something more useful.

Like cooking. Except that really cooking a good meal takes about 30 minutes to an hour, so I opt for the microwaveable meals ready in three minutes or less.

And with the time I save by not cooking, I have time to finish my homework or go online, where my high-speed internet connection allows me access to news stories from around the world.

For me, every second of time I save is replaced by something else that I need to do as quickly as possible so that I will be able to move on to one more thing.

The problem is that when I finally have free time after days of living like this, I become so exhausted that I pretty much crash.

But I know I’m not the only one. Americans are notorious workaholics, and technological improvements have only made us worse.

The average American only takes 16 vacation days off from work per year, including public holidays, which is less than half the days an average French person takes off, according to a 2006 Telegraph.co.uk article.

This isn’t to say that Americans should completely forgo our busy lifestyles.

I don’t love to clean my shower, cook or (sorry to my professors) do homework, so the advances in technology that help me accomplish these tasks as quickly as possible are welcome.

But I try to allow myself at least an hour every day to do something slowly that I love, like reading a book, watching a movie or spending time with friends. Ironically, by taking time to slow down everyday, I actually find I become more productive than when I spend days on end working at a fast pace to get as many things done as possible.

With their truly remarkable breakthrough in high-speed technology, the French obviously know how to keep things moving at a fast pace, but they also know when to slow down. Americans, on the other hand, need to work on learning when to hit the brakes.

Talia Sampson is a junior news-editorial journalism and international relations major from Moorpark, Calif. Her column appears Thursdays.