There’s a lot of talk these days about being busy. There has been for months, so the fact that we are still talking about it means, we haven’t harnessed the beast called Busy. I’ve come to dislike the term, this so-called badge of honor. But why be proud about scrambling around?
I used to brag about being busy. It felt like my obligation to be busy. It was a sign of accomplishment, pride, power over my crazy life. And there are certainly still times that my planner and calendar are filled, and many more times my mind and body are filled.
Then I read this from Alina Dizik in BBC.com
Yup, feeling productive feels good. Until I realize I am not doing much that is important or necessary. Ouch.
But there’s really no power in being busy. For me, there was also not a heck of a lot of joy, because the business of being busy wasn’t my choice. But often, I look good being busy.
Why is it that we in this country, especially women, feel the need to be busy? Many women certainly have multiple layers of obligations (as do men). We’re employees, friends, parents, humans. The juggle is not easy and it’s often not about balancing like the classic image of Lady Justice keeping things even. More often, it’s like keeping those (very full) plates teetering on top of those poles.
For the past several weeks, I’ve had an unofficial experiment where I have decided NOT to use the word busy (unless it’s in reference to a phone call that doesn’t ring through). While I have absolutely no data, I have noticed that if I don’t say “busy” I hear it less often from others. This includes busy’s kissing cousins named “crazy,” “insane,” and “hectic,” as well as the second cousin recognized as the eye roll and palms raised. Don’t’ put it out there and see what happens.
For the most part, our schedules are full. But when you put out there that you are “busy,” you’re likely to get that right back. Busy brings the connotation of full, but not to my liking – or full and I don’t want to be doing these things.
I could easily describe myself as “busy,” too. But I’m making a concerted effort to have a full calendar and full planner by making conscious choices about what I want and need to be doing. I’m also not letting those endless little fires build momentum.
So I’ve changed my dialogue – when asked “how are you?” Often, I simply say “well” and smile and ask, “how are things with you?” In return, I’ve heard lovely stories of kids and work and personal accomplishments from folks I chat with. I’ve also heard details of challenges in work or family life – but these anecdotes generally don’t include the word “busy.”
Oh, and that feels good. Like breathing space to listen to each other.
I can’t do this alone. I’m just not that smart, clever, nor disciplined. I have tools. More next time on those tools.
Until then, try not to be so busy. Breathe, listen, enjoy.