Your notion of busy is a lie and your life won’t get better until you fix it. My most recent Podcast in iTunes (Episode #5) ruffled a few feathers. In it, I talk about how I am pretty tired of hearing just how busy everyone is because, quite frankly, busy is a lie.
Why have we bought into the notion that busier is better? At what point did we falsely equate busyness to success and free-time to laziness? Let me clue you in to a fact: “busy” is not an adequate OR accurate measurement tool.
Being busy doesn’t equate to success or wealth or being fulfilled. It’s not a happiness indicator or a barometer of how healthy your relationships are. And, there are no medals, awards, or automatic admittance through the Pearly Gates just because you are busy.
And busy doesn’t happen without your say-so. You are in control. You get to choose. If you haven’t been on a date with your spouse in six months, whose fault is that? If your kids are way too over-scheduled, who wrote the checks and signed them up?
One of my most astute observations: the more people brag, boast, lament, or whine about being busy, the unhappier they usually are. Their version of busy is a cover for something else; whether it be a need to be needed, placing added importance on their existence, avoidance, or ineffectiveness.
Somewhere along the line, we have been told that busy is GOOD and free time is BAD. I’d like to argue that it’s a gross misconception. I think back to my childhood and how, despite playing sports, I had ample free time each day to just be a kid. I worked hard, I studied hard, and I played hard. Those were the good old days! Days full of nature-induced Vitamin D, friendships, and goofing off. I got dirty, I got silly, and I had time to just relax and process the events of the day. I’ve gotten to the point where I am modeling my adulthood after my childhood and I think nothing of spending an evening on the couch with a book in hand, despite the fact that the laundry sits unfolded three feet in front of me. I feel no guilt or remorse about that, despite what society dictates. I consider it a necessity to pack up and play hooky from work every once in a while, for no other reason than to sit at the ocean and soak up the sunshine. And, I don’t care how many dust bunnies have piled up in the corner, if you call me and ask me to go get a beer and a babysitter is readily available, I’m all in!
Maybe I’m an old soul, or maybe you would prefer to classify me as someone with lazy ambition, but I think I have simply realized the value of life’s important moments. For me, life is about doing great work as efficiently as possible, focusing on my uncompromisables each day, and then having a shit-load of free time where I can just BE ME; reading books, writing stories, making something with my hands, making love to my husband, being connected to friends and the outside world, gardening, relaxing, and enjoying quality time with my kids. Those are the things I am bringing to the tombstone with me. I don’t think I’ll ever reach the point where I will wish I worked more hours or missed out on that important milestone. I know better.
Here Are Some Things To Think Through:
- What need are you fulfilling by being so busy all the time? Is it the need to be needed? Is it the need to feel important?
- Are you actually busy, or are you a task junkie who is filling your time up with busywork and fluff?
- Are you trying to avoid something, so you are filling the time so you don’t have to face some inconvenient truth? Oftentimes, avoidance is the impetus for all kinds of poor behavior.
- Are you a martyr who is looking for attention, acceptance, or pity?
Ways to Break the Cycle:
I go into MUCH more depth on this over on the Areté Today podcast, but these are the very important abbreviated bullet points. It’s definitely worth a listen, so head over and download the Podcast today.
- Instead of priding yourself on being busy, focus on being productive.
- Place more value on the Happiness Factor. If it will bring you joy, either in the short-term or over the long haul, do it. Make it a point to make time for it.
- Again, your actions need to be in alignment with your values. Focus on the important.
- Keep your commitments. Especially the ones to yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I watch people, women in particular, put their own very valuable needs on the back burner. That’s not smart…that’s martyrdom.
- Be impeccable with your words. Don’t use “busy” as an excuse for “I don’t want to.”
- Make lists and plan in advance. Do your important tasks when you are freshest and be sure to schedule in down time.
- Eliminate the “fillers” that give you the false notion of busy. We really don’t need more television in our lives.
- Take the easy way out. Become comfortable with time hacks. Don’t spend ten minutes texting and navigating through auto-correct when you can instead make a two minute phone call.
- If you are a parent, stop over-scheduling your kids and watch your time magically free up! (*Plus, your kids will be a lot less exhausted and stressed out as well.)
There is a direct correlation to the amount of squawking about being busy and the busyness being self-imposed. Seriously, the busiest people I know — the ones working two jobs, or the ones raising kids by themselves and working full time while battling cancer — those people NEVER complain about being busy. They might be exhausted and bone-tired, but they never lament over being busy. The people generating the most noise over being busy are addicted to not only their own busyness and self-importance, but they also avoid the dread of what they might have to face in the absence of being busy.
Did you ever stop to think that all this histrionic exhaustion and over-embellishment is a cover up for a bunch of shit that either really doesn’t matter or that you need to tend to –PRONTO?
Busyness is NOT a necessary or inevitable condition of life. We have been conditioned to believe it and we have chosen it. Therefore, we can also UNchoose it.
I, for one, am sick of the hysterical noise that busy creates and I am no longer going to try to shout over it.
Who’s with me?
“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.” – Thomas A. Edison
“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau
“The goal of the future is full unemployment, so we can play. That’s why we have to destroy the present politico-economic system.” — Arthur C. Clarke
Ants Marching, one of my favorite Dave Matthews songs, is centered on the idea that people get caught up in the monotony of their everyday lives and forget to focus on what is truly important. Enjoy the video and give some thought to the message.
The visual inspiration I post on the blog is meant to be shared. Download it, share it on social media, and enjoy it. Please just give credit to the source. 🙂
Until next time, keep laughing, loving, and learning.