August 24, 2015

Busy is the New Black.


Everyone is so busy these days and, over recent years, it’s not just become the expectation and the norm but also a fashion statement.

It says, “I’m busy therefore I’m successful, important and needed.  If I am busy then I must be contributing to society.”

I was busy not only for all of the above reasons but also for many others. If I was busy, I didn’t have time to notice if I was unhappy. Busy filled any voids there may have been in my life.

Busy also meant I’d successfully distracted myself from my problems.

When cracks appeared in my relationship and my life seemed to have lost its meaning, I became busier to compensate.  After all, busy is good. It makes us feel needed. It’s what we’re told successful people do. The alternative often leaves us feeling selfish, lonely, useless and like we’re failing in some way.  If the rest of society is busy being busy, surely we should be too.

So I became busier at work. I was promoted. I was successful but I still felt like I was dying inside. I had no time to do the things I most enjoyed and my life was passing me by.  My health also started to deteriorate to a point where busy became burn out.

In terms of the evolution of man, the measurement of time has not been around very long, but it has become one of the most precious commodities of our age. We never seem to have enough of it.  Everyone is always so busy and, in the age of multitasking, being busy is seen as a must but at what cost?  The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that approximately 450 million people worldwide have a mental health problem and that by 2030, depression will be the second highest cause of disease in middle-income countries.

In today’s world we are driven by the need to succeed, to prove our self-worth. If we’re not busy, we’re not successful. We like to feel valued, and the busier we are, the more valuable we become…or at least that’s how it feels.  As such, we’ve moved to get rid of all the downtime and pauses from our life as these are a waste of time.

We could be doing something “useful.”

By trying to maximise every second of every day, we’ve gotten rid of all the opportunities to rest and recharge and have no space left in our lives.

The majority of people I speak to say they don’t have time and that’s the whole problem. We feel the need to turn every second into some sort of productivity and achievement.  But how productive can we be when we’re burnt out?  How much more can we achieve when we are rested?  How would our lives improve if we had time to do things we enjoy, or to simply pass the time of day with others?

How many times have we thought, I’d love do to have a day at the spa, learn a new language, visit a long lost friend or going hiking in the mountains if I had the time?.  And how many times do we misspend our time choosing working late instead of going to the kids’ assembly or watching TV instead of going out for a walk?  Some people dare to suggest that there’s always enough time if you spend it doing the things that matter.

Whilst we’re busy being busy, we risk missing out on life and the things that really matter.

I’m too busy to visit my elderly relative, too busy to go to a yoga class this week, too busy to spend time making a nutritious family meal, too busy to go to bed early.  It’s like we each have a glass of water (for some it’s half full, for others it’s half empty), and we’re busy filling up to the top until it’s overflowing. Only at that point do we realise we don’t have any room in our glass for the things that really matter to live a life full of things we love.

Often the things we say we’re too busy to do are the most important things we need and, ironically, the busier we are the more we need them.  Things like self-care, rest, relaxation, fun, exercise…love.  When we think of what’s most important to us, we often overlook our health until we haven’t got it. And then we realise we can’t have any of the things we put at the top of our busy list without the one thing we forget to include.

So whilst we’re submerged in our busy lives, we have to check to ensure we make the time to do the things that matter and that we mind our own busyness.


Relephant read:

Why Wait: A World too Busy to Pause.

Author: Jess Stuart

Apprentice Editor: Lois P. / Editor: Renee Jahnke

Image: Hartwig HKD-Flickr   

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