Years ago I had a friend of a friend who, in his 20s was always SO busy. If you wanted to see them they would be “booked up for months!” and if we wanted to make weekend plans, we arrange to see them 3 months in advance. Where is he now do you think. Well he had a brilliant well paid job, the amazing holidays, the flash car, a beautiful partner and gorgeous children. Then he had anxiety attacks, lost his confidence, lost his job and well you can guess the rest.
My immaturity and nativity and I guess my lack of confidence left me feeling as though to be successful / important then I should be that busy, and if I wasn’t then well, I just wasn’t popular or important enough! Ohh the ignorance of youth…
When I run into friends and work colleagues, they will usually ask me, “How are you? ” My reply is often, “Busy,” or “You know, keeping my head above water,” or “Keeping all the plates spinning.” Why do I answer like this?
It’s a way of saying that I am diligent in all my various duties, but more likely it is a way to proudly state that I am significant.
I like to be busy and I like to brag that I am busy.
Meredith Fineman in the Harvard Business Review writes,
“Here’s the thing: it’s harming how we communicate, connect, and interact. Everyone is busy, in different sorts of ways. Maybe you have lots of clients, or are starting a new business, or are taking care of a newborn. The point is this: with limited time and unlimited demands on that time, it’s easy to fill your plate with activities constantly. But this doesn’t mean that you should.
To assume that being ‘busy’ (at this point it has totally lost its meaning) is cool, or brag-worthy, or tweetable, is ridiculous. By lobbing these brags, endlessly puffing our shoulders about how ‘up to my neck’ we are, we’re missing out on important connections with family and friends, as well as personal time. In addition to having entire conversations about how busy we are, we fail to share feelings with friends and family, ask about important matters, and realize that the ‘busy’ is something that can be put on hold for a little while.”
So I guess the question is when is “busy” too busy? BUSY is a highly addictive drug, it makes us feel good, needed, effective. It has a short lived impact and gives us a short timed “high”. The adrenalin rush is good but short lived. However “busy” can be translated.
I’m busy = I’m important.
Being busy gives people a sense they’re needed and significant. It’s also a sign saying that you’re about to be on-ramped into somebody’s misguided ego trip.
I’m busy = I’m giving you an excuse.
Saying that you’re busy is a handy way to outsource your responsibility to your irresponsibility. Since you’re always distracted, you don’t have to do anything for anybody.
I’m busy = I’m afraid.
Look above at the “I’m important” part. Whether the speaker knows it or not, complaining of busyness is a subtle cry for help, one that reassures us that yes, we are in demand.
I’m too busy = I’m making something else my priority.
What does YOUR “too busy” say about your situation?
How to get rid of busyness
Of course, it’s a interdependent issue. It’s hard to have downtime if your bosses subscribe to what Anne Marie Slaughter calls our time macho culture, “a relentless competition to work harder, stay later, pull more all-nighters, travel around the world and bill the extra hours that the international date line affords you.”
But don’t let that excuse suffice. You can convince your bosses/ friends/ colleagues/ children –if you know how to structure and have the right conversation.
Busyness is not a virtue. It will not serve you well.
Busyness is a shield, a cover, it covers up what is really going on.
I’d recommend checking your priorities and managing your work load effectively. This takes work, effort and, guess what – time.
With stress & cancer on the increase take some time and think about it, I have found it’s all about balance and priorities. Take care.
Have a brilliant day and stay in touch and so please let me know what you think.