The invention of the minute hand is often attributed to the great Swiss clock maker Joost Bürgi, whose work in the late 16th century coincided with a burst of technical innovation in clock making that would eventually bring whole new opportunities for guilt and shame. Along with all your other problems, you could now be late.
"There's a big owie out there," says David Allen, who specializes in curing the psychic pain caused by the pressure of time. Allen's work has become the touchstone of the life-hacking movement, a loosely knit network of psychological self-experimenters who share tips about how small changes in human behavior can bring big rewards in happiness. Allen's book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity has steadily climbed the best-seller lists since its release in 2001, but the best evidence of its influence is not the 600,000 copies in print but rather the endless network of spinoffs, how-to guides, software versions, and online commentaries by readers who interpret, criticize, and extend his theories.