I was driving down the highway towards my parent’s place the other morning with Igloo riding shot-gun, thinking about the term ‘busy’.
As of late, I’ve grown to really dislike the word. To be busy, is one thing. To let busy take over, is another. There’s a fine line between the two, and I’ve found there to be little to barricade the difference.
It seems to me that these days people have taken an odd sense of pride in the idea of ‘busy-ness’. As it if were a sign of great achievement, or self-importance to be busy all of the time. It’s almost like being busy were to mean that the life you’re living was more advantageous than others, and that no one else could ever understand just how much you had to accomplish. And when the busy it takes-over, and suddenly someone doesn’t reply to your message until five days later with the excuse that the week has just been “so busy”…the barricade appears non-existent.
I’m left to wonder, when did busy become an all-enveloping excuse for making time for the things that really should matter more?
Now, disclaimer: I’ve alway’s been a busy person. Self-confessed, I prefer the chaos. But I’ve never been someone to let it completely envelope me to the point of exclusion of all else – or at least, I like to think I never have. I have always aimed for balance, and found time for the things that matter most, like family and friends -because shouldn’t that be more important?
And so I’m not exactly sure why society has classed “busy” and “successful” as belonging in the same box when I find you can be both with, or without, the other. The internet describes the term busy in various ways, but perhaps my favourite description depicted busy as “spending time being cluttered with small, unharmonious details“.
We fill our time with small errands, and work schedules, only to then find little time for ourselves, let alone others – and I don’t think it’s healthy anymore to live like that. I’m all for to-do lists and productivity, but equally in love with bath salts and a good book. There has to be balance. There has to be time for other people, because your iPhone isn’t going to hug you on a bad day.
I think people need to change their perception of busy in the context of success. Because frankly, how could you ever think yourself successful in life if you let the busy-ness eliminate all else. Who would have left to celebrate the real triumphs with at the end of it all? Aren’t people more important than designing a new website, or replying to emails on end?
The bottom line is that we don’t have to be busy, we choose to. And I’ve always strongly believed that if you really want to do something, you’ll find time for it. So here’s my own self-acquired advice on barricading the busy-ness:
It starts with recognising that life is fleeting, and should be filled with the things you love. There’s time to be busy, and there’s days to run errands. But recognise when work is becoming too much. Recognise when it’s becoming the barrier between you and the rest of the world. Don’t spend your time feeling chained to a busy life, staring out the window at the world passing by. Your body will often tell you that you need to stop, and when it does you need to listen. Recognise that there needs to be balance, and being productive does not come at the cost of a night out with friends or a night in with family. Recognise when life is becoming unharmonious, and focus on instilling harmony in it’s place. Chaos shouldn’t be the dot point on a map we find you living in.
Allocate time for being productive, and then allocate time to not be. I have found it so important to prioritise time to spend with family, friends or even just yourself. There’s something magical in leaving the laptop in the office and venturing to the oceanside where there’s fresh air and crashing waves – and the heaviness is given permission to lift from your shoulders. Find time for others, even when it feels like there is little of it left in your week. Not just because it’ll enrich your life – but because it will enrich the lives of others in your life who maybe just needed a friend during a hard week you never knew they were having. Prioritise your time, because I guarantee there will be nothing worse than looking back on your life on day and realising what you missed when you were busy being busy.
Embrace the to-do lists and work towards your goals – let that be the definition of “busy”. But also embrace knock-off time when the day is done. Draw a line between work and play, and love it’s divide. Spend time with the people who have supported you since the beginning, and do the things you love. An email can wait until 9am tomorrow morning, just because it came through while you were getting dinner with a friend, it doesn’t demand an immediate response. The sooner you learn that you have a choice in being busy, the sooner you’ll find a better success than busy could ever bring.
That’s all there is to it. Busy-ness is a choice. And I hope you choose well.