“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” Henry David Thoreau.
The word ‘busy’ is on a par with terms such as ‘organic’ and ‘urgent’ that really are banded about ad nauseam to signal significance and importance, when really, their impact is becoming diluted in a sea of information. Note: ‘busy’, ‘organic’ and ‘urgent’ have their place, but they are often a case of guilty (ie. untrue) until proven innocent.
People are saying ‘busy’ to impress others, but the word has become a default, if you like, for “can’t really put my finger on what exactly I’m doing of any importance to the greater good, so I’ll just sound important.”
Admission equals rehabilitation
Hi, I’m Rob. And I was once part of the ‘busy’ brigade. For ages. But I’m a recovering busy-ist, and am using the word less these days. I still have a nervous twitch when I hear the word, though.
I know, outrageous! The very person who, in this blog, is admonishing the incorrect use of the word, was a former addict! Whenever someone asked, “How are you?”, I would say, “Busy! Yeah, really busy!” And I thought I was some sort of different species. A mover and a shaker. Making things happen. “Check me out! I’m busy!”
Sure, I’ve always been industrious and ambitious, but the reality is, I was poking around at life with a stick. I was the equivalent of that one-legged duck, swimming around frantically in circles.
The point is this; busy is fine, but are your actions in the throes of being busy leading you towards being happy and your dream life or goals? Do you have dreams or goals? If not, no problem. Just don’t complain when you’re in the same situation you’re currently in, 10 years from now, still rushing around being ‘busy’.
“I’m too busy; I’ve got no time”
A really lovely friend of mine once told me that she hated money as she never had any, she hated her job and that she was always tired and lethargic. Wow! Quite the unloading! When I suggested that she should use her evenings wisely to do some research on finding solutions, she said that she’d prefer to come home after a long day and plonk herself on the couch in front of the TV. “I don’t have the time”, was her follow-up answer. Go figure.
I found this statement – she probably didn’t realise the magnitude of these words – really disturbing. It reflects a lot about our current generation and their thinking and attitude, where we live in a vortex of instant gratification, non-accountability and not being solution-oriented. Here was someone who actually has abundantly more talent and potential than she herself thinks, but has buried her head in the sand and ‘rewards’ her hard efforts as a corporate slave with reality TV. And then justifies it by calling that ‘relaxation’.
I do worry about her and others in the exact same situation. Generally speaking, we get busy so that we can earn an income to support ourselves and a family, and be able to do nice things with them. But we have gotten to the point where even our social endeavours are so frequent that we don’t stop to savour those precious moments truly. We have then lost sight of the end goal and become disengaged. Hence the lethargy.
I have busy-itis: cure me!
Time management has become increasingly important in this fast-paced world in which we live. We constantly need to be on top of our game, have a task list, knock things off said task list, and then feel good about ourselves. Crack a beer, you’ve been busy!
Wrong! Time management is not as important as priority management. If two tasks will take an equal amount of time, but task A is an ugly task, whereas task B is low-hanging fruit, us humans tend to make a beeline for task B as we know we probably won’t fail. It’s something to tick off! Chances are, task A will probably have a greater impact on your life. It’s the priority equivalent of putting your clothes on before walking 5 minutes to your bus stop.
From Busy to Productive
“A good man will not waste himself upon mean and discreditable work or be busy merely for the sake of being busy. Neither will he, as you imagine, become so involved in ambitious schemes that he will have continually to endure their ebb and flow.” – Seneca the Younger, Roman philosopher.
This wisdom is about 2000 years old, and yet is still incredibly pertinent in today’s hustle and bustle.
It’s time to stop trying to be ‘busy’ with things that invariably derail your focus and hence your goals. After all, you can have excuses (busy falls into that category!) or you can have success, but you can’t have both.