I am going for a short post today. You know why? I am busy. How annoying would this statement be, really? Busy is the new black and it just gets me annoyed. And I have written about this before and how you can turn busy into productive. But today I am annoyed by busy. And yes, I will keep it short, because it is past my (somewhat volatile) bedtime and I chose to prioritize other things over my writing. But it is not because my busyness is too good for you. It is rather because today, I believe that this is what is important.
Why am I annoyed?
I find people telling me that they are too busy to comply with a deadline, do an analysis, figure out the correct detail, speak to their children, cook a meal, go to the gym. It does not matter. Invariably in your day you will find yourself using one of these expressions with the justification that the world will accept -I could not get to it, I have been busy.
As a “busy” person, I would know.
Well I don’t. I have learnt that busy is not productive nor beneficial for my work, my family or my health. So yes, I have a LOT going on, and I often touch points of overwhelm. But when asked to do something, my default answer is no longer including the word busy on it. Busy will apply for me if I have conflicting calendar entries. It does not apply for having no time for looking into a new problem or meeting a new person. That, I have trouble saying no to.
But we are busy
Yes, we are indeed living filled lives, but are they full lives? I find that by really making a conscious effort to stay away from the word busy, I also force myself into a prioritization exercise. What needs to go first, what needs to happen today vs. tomorrow or next month. Yes, it is a tiring exercise, but no wonder people say that if you want something done you ask someone busy. That certainly does not refer to the busy people saying they are too busy to care. Rather I think that means the busy (queen) bees that juggle the dominos of their lives making it even look smooth at times but really just constantly optimizing.
Quick Tool: Change your Language
Next time someone asks you how you are, think twice. I would bet half the people reading this say “fine, and you”, and the other half (or more) would say “busy you know”. Find something else you could say, that is honest and optimistic.
Next time someone asks if you have time to help them solve a problem, think about how that matters to them and whether it is also important for you.
Next time your daughter asks to practice for an audition you have just heard about happening the next day 15 minutes before bedtime, maybe you can stop everything for 15 minutes (and potentially extend bedtime for another 15 minutes).
Quick Thought: Busy is Bad
Are you really that busy that you may be missing out on the next new project, next opportunity, next person or moment that can change your life?
I am known to be guilty of avoiding new social events, that is true. But on the projects and opportunities, rarely do I shy away because I am too busy. And I certainly do not shy away from last minute auditions on a Portuguese poem for Little Girl C.
Does it mean I just get busier and then to a point of overwhelm? Absolutely. But that is part of my domino. I will want to fit new pieces in, and in the absence of space some have to be dropped and replaced or somewhat shifted in the list.
If you have defined your priorities, the answer may come easier than you thought.
By the way
For more quick tips on dealing with overwhelm and weekly events join The Viewpoint newsletter. You may like it. It is short and sweet, Saturday morning with your coffee. Or are you too busy?
Let’s give credit where it is deserved. Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash