Hello…are you Busy?
I have had several conversations with colleagues lately, and many of times ended up on the subject of BUSY-ness. How frequently people actually use the words “busy”, “crazy busy”, overwhelmed, “jammed” and “swamped”!
Are we that busy?
I get the feeling many may just be plain terrified, of not being busy.
As a CEO, employer and leader to many, I believe it is our responsibility to help people understand that busy-ness is not your worth-o-meter, it definitely shouldn’t be a schedule-a-thon, and certainly not, how we should be gauging ones performance at all. “Because busy-ness does not always equal productivity”.
Some of the busiest people I know are contributing very little to the good of themselves, their families, their communities, or the world. They’ve become so obsessed with being busy; they’ve lost touch with any sense of meaning behind their existence.
Have we forgotten our “why?”
For so many our brain feeds us thoughts of;
“The busier I am, the better I am.”
“If I’m not busy, I’m not doing enough.”
“I need to be busy, or people will think I’m lazy.”
“Being busy makes me count.”
Despite the convincing tone of our inner critic, these connections between our busyness and our worth are inaccurate thoughts that we are feeding ourselves.
Is it perhaps we feel we have no choice, then, as a matter of survival, to give greater value to the work that we are compelled to do all the time.
Malcolm Forbes explains… “By the time we’ve made it, we’ve had it.” It reminds us that doing for the sake of doing burns us out. It can separate us from our true selves in the name of achievement”.
You might argue that the glorification of busyness stems from the demands of the digital age — all those texts that need tending, all those blogs to read. But come on now, we’re no longer breaking our backs 16 hours a day on the farm, and tech breakthroughs actually give us the opportunity to be less busy: instant access to information, voice recognition software and digital photography, for better or worse, save countless trips to libraries, developing houses and offices.
But somewhere around the end of the 20th century, busyness became not just a way of life but also a badge of honor. And life, sociologists say, became an exhausting every-day-athon. People now tell pollsters that they’re too busy to register to vote, too busy to date, to make friends outside the office, to take a vacation, to sleep and to workout.
As for multitasking, one 2012 Survey found that 38 million Americans shop on their smartphones and try to answer emails while sitting on the toilet. And another survey found that the compulsion to multitask was making us as dazed and confused as if we were intoxicated.
“Ever have a conversation with someone that was doing too many things at the same time”? Then you get what I’m saying.
Burnett, a communications professor at North Dakota State University, has studied a trove of holiday letters she’s collected stretching back to the 1960s that serves as an archive of the rise of American busyness. Words and phrases that began surfacing in the 1970s and 1980s — “hectic,” “whirlwind,” “consumed,” “crazy,” “constantly on the run” and “way too fast” — now appear with astonishing frequency.
People compete over being busy; it’s about showing status. “If you’re busy, you’re important. You’re leading a full and worthy life,” Burnett says. Keeping up with the Joneses used to be about money, cars and homes. Now, she explains, “if you’re not as busy as the Jonese’s, you’d better get cracking.”
Psychologists treat burned-out clients all the time, who can’t shake the notion that the busier you are, the faster you work, and the more you multitask, the more you are considered competent, smart, successful. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Neuroscientists tests are beginning to show that at our most idle, our brains are most open to inspiration and creativity — and history proves that great works of art, philosophy and invention were created during leisure time.
Maybe we should take a hint from that! 😉
Maybe that’s the attraction of busyness. If we never take a moment to stop and think, we don’t have to face that hard truth.
And without time to reflect, our drive to show status can mean we create busyness even when it doesn’t exist — as an excuse to feel that you are accomplishing something, when you are actually just spinning your wheels.
Scott Dannemiller, in a recent article in the Huffington Post, says busyness is a sickness we bring on ourselves,
He says we “awfulize” the tasks of our life in order to justify our existence.
Is ‘busy’ the generalized excuse we use for not going after our dreams? I sure hope not.
Isn’t it great, yet rare, to see letters or cards hand written by people who have stepped off the hamster wheel long enough to savor everyday moments, realizing that their time on Earth is limited and that taking the time to “stop” and “slow down” to show us that we are all worthy. Or getting a personal or well thought out email out of the blue, or response from someone that isn’t some sort of template or mass letter they have sent to everyone else? (FYI- yes, people know if your are sending them a cut and pasted message or mass mailing)
Here are some ways to help keep yourself from getting sucked into a busy addiction.
- Ask yourself: Does this nourish me, or deplete me?
- Believe that you are equally worthy whether you are busy or still.
- Recognize that you deserve time for rest, time to reboot, re-focus and time to do what you love.
I myself have taken time for clarity and will take half-a-day per week to sit down and do something or “nothing” for me. I have noticed that I now look forward to it and my life does not seem so overwhelming. I have also noticed that my ideas are more fluid and that my clarity has helped me relax more, without the feeling of guilt or that I am missing out on something.
It has taken some time to get used to, it’s in my DNA, like so many of you out there. But at the end of the day I know that I will be able to be more productive, more energized, more enthusiastic and contribute to my life and to the lives of others, just a bit more. Isn’t that what we aim to achieve in life anyway?
The only thing we really “have to do” every day is breathe, and understand that everything else is a “choice”.
Cheers to our lives, to productivity, to clarity and to our success.
Haynes Global Services