“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” — Socrates
Socrates, God rest his soul in eternal peace, could not have said it any better. The Greek philosopher jolts you back into reality and aptly warns you to be wary of your busy life as it could be barren.
Personally, I simply can’t understand why some people feel the need to throw about the word “busy” every time a person reaches out to them. In my opinion, it’s an act of self-importance, a twisted fundamental belief that being busy is somewhat a pointer to an accomplished life.
There is this fallacious belief that being preoccupied most of the time is an indication that a person is pursuing something more prestigious, immensely important, and iconic. How wrong! You can be busy but be unproductive. You can be staring at your computer the whole day, seem like you are immersed into work but in essence, chasing your own tail.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not in any way trying to unilaterally say that being busy is a bad thing. Granted, it can be a good thing. It can actually mean that you are putting in the hours and getting things done. It could mean your in tray is empty, your targets are met, efficiency is 100%, and that your clients are satisfied beyond measure.
What I find issue with is a clique of individuals who feel self-important and throw about the “busy” word to belittle or make others feel as if they aren’t doing anything worthwhile with their lives. Picture this. You have a really important meeting with a friend. Probably the goal is to streamline a report or fine tune a proposal that could make you guys get the much required capital for a startup side hustle.
Time is running out. The deadline is fast approaching. You’ve been working your ass off for the last couple of weeks to ensure that the final report is spot on, captures all the points, and persuasive enough. All that’s needed is your friends final input based on their professional inclination. You set an appointment a day before to meet the following day. Time is of the essence.
On the appointed day, you arrive at the agreed meeting point on time. You are excited but also anxious. An hour passes and they are a no show. You make frantic calls but no one answers. 2 hours later, he arrives without any form of guilt registered on their face. You raise an eyebrow, expecting an explanation of sorts.
“What?” “Why are you giving me that look” he retorts
“We were supposed to meet and finalize 2 hours ago”
“I was really busy working on a very important project at work” I just couldn’t leave or even pick up my phone”
You can feel your blood boiling. You wonder if this “busy” excuse is supposed to make everything right. You are irked that he said it so casually as if what is at stake is not equally important. This is not the first time you’ve tried scheduling an appointment with him so that you can finalize this report.
“Look, I just have a lot of things going on for me right now. Unlike you, I don’t have all the free time in the world. I barely sleep enough. I am working on one project after the other. I know I promised to help out with this particular start up game plan, but am too busy to even spare a few minutes for lunch” He tells you.
You are appalled! To say that you are Lost for word is an understatement.
Well, you are not alone. You are not the first and you won’t be the last. Why do people brag about being busy? What sort of satisfaction do they derive? While a few cases are genuine, most people deem being chronically busy as a badge of honor, a status symbol. It is like it puts them on another level, makes them feel important, and ultimately superior to their peers or friends.
Busy, in some twisted way, has become a brand of sorts. It’s like we are constantly competing and bragging about how busy we are. We wake up every morning and immediately get ourselves preoccupied be it real or imagined. And the worst of it all is that we get some sort of subliminal pleasure when we brag about our busyness.
It is like we get a “high” of sorts, feel superior, important, and accomplished. Instead of getting things done (being productive), busyness actually holds us back. We lose the point when we brag about busyness and focus on painting this perfect picture of a hardworking, upright, accomplished individual. You might ask, how did most of us get here?
From an early age, we are impressed upon that being busy is good. We are actually subconsciously trained to be busy. Throughout history, scarcity has been the norm. We evolved from a culture of scarcity and therefore, the concept of “more” is highly regarded.
We believe that working long hours is a sign of commitment, effort, seriousness, and inadvertently, help us advance in our careers or life. Secondly, most of us say we are busy to feel better, to seek approval, and acknowledgement. At times, it’s a sort of strategy to achieve a competitive edge.
That said, while we are all guilty of bragging that we are busy in one way or the other, let’s not get sucked into this trap. In the beginning, it might be fun but with time, it becomes chronic. Chronic busyness is not something you want to deal with.
You find yourself locked in a web of racing, frantic state, skimming activity, cramming, immersed into work from the moment you open your eyes in the morning to the time you get into bed late at night. Unfortunately, it never ends well. You are exhausted most of the time, stressed, and before you know it, you are suffering from insomnia, persistent headaches, and what not.
It is time we stopped glorifying busyness. Let us stop looking at being busy as some sort of achievement or an indication of an accomplished life. Let us stop competing against one another as to whom is the busiest. If you are chronically busy, its time you understood that it’s not a status symbol or a badge of honor. Everything needs to be done in moderation. You need to change how you do things and for crying out loud, stop bragging about being busy!