How BUSY I am is None of Your BUSY-ness! (Part One)
By Sandye Linnetz
“Don’t bother her, she’s very busy.”
“He doesn’t have time for that, he’s a very busy man!”
“If you want something done ask a busy person to do it.”
“Better BUSY than BORED.”
Most of us grew up believing that busy people were (by definition) unavailable, important and valuable people. Being busy, more than a good thing to be, was a condition to cherish; synonymous with hard at work and proof of success. What if being busy just sucks?
I saw a quote (attributed to no one in particular) that referred to ‘busy’ as the new ‘fine’. In the ‘good old days’ when you asked someone, “How are you?” the default response was “I’m fine”. Today the most common answers are: “Busy”, “So busy” and “Crazy busy”! When did we adopt this aversion to free time, relaxation and idleness? We stay ‘crazy busy’ to avoid all of that. Admittedly, I am the poster child for busy-ness. I can’t sit still, I don’t nap or rest or assume the role of couch potato in front of the TV. My father always told me that ‘lazy people’ nap and sleep late – smart people were active and productive. Looks like I bought that…
My father taught me to judge my days based on my productivity. The more I accomplished the better I was! (Today, for example, I got up at 6:30am and by noon had done a work out, a load of laundry, made a fresh pot of coffee, emptied the dish washer, changed the bed sheets, flipped a mattress, watered and weeded the plants, ran three miles, showered, played candy crush and Sudoku, washed the kitchen floor, outlined a blog post, read some emails and the ‘news’ on facebook, had a coaching call with a client, did some internet searching, made breakfast (of course, cleaned it all up) and emptied out all the junk from my car. Whew! I am so proud of myself… and so totally exhausted! Busy is a drug that people like me are addicted to.
It would appear that most of my busyness was productive, right? Well, I neglected to say how MUCH Candy Crush and Sudoku I played… And, yes, I spend waaaay too much time on facebook and those games. Not all of my busyness is business! Often I find myself busy being busy. I start something, move to something else, do something for someone else, make a phone call, go back to thing one, take a phone call, leave it to start a new project… It’s hard to FOCUS when you’re busy! Being busy is doing stuff – not necessarily getting valuable stuff done.
People today wear their busyness like a medal of honor – like being busy means they’re important and worthwhile. To feel truly significant, it seems that we are somehow ‘required’ to be in action all the time – even when doing nothing might be a better way to go. Here’s a thought, maybe doing nothing and totally enjoying it is way more powerful than being ‘busy’ doing nothing. What if the ‘downtime’ actually allowed us to be more productive? In the blog next week I’ll experiment with ‘doing nothing’ (which, if you know me, is a BIG DEAL) and report back.