don’t use the b-word (busy)

life's too short

I’ve been trying to figure out what people really mean when they tell me they are busy. Is it a discreet way to brag about all of their involvements? Is it a cry for help because in reality they are absolutely exhausted? It is an excuse to justify why they haven’t performed to their fullest capacity?

Tim Kreider argues busy-ness serves as a way to ensure life has meaning. The busier we are, the more important our lives are to ourselves or others. Tyler Wardis claims busy people do not manage their lives well or they might have a lack of confidence.

The down side? Tyler says busy-ness restricts professional performance, limits mental capacity, and keeps us from really enjoying life.

According to research in the Journal of Happiness Studies, Americans maximize happiness by working while other cultures maximize happiness through leisure. If we are constantly working towards an ultimate goal, when will we ever slow down?

My point is this: we are all busy. Say it with me this time. We are all busy!

So how do we move beyond being busy to being in control of our lives? It is one thing to say we are striving towards living an integrated life, but it looks (and feels) entirely differently to actually live it.

In an effort to reframe my thoughts about my workload, I have spent two months challenging myself to not tell people I am busy.  It seems like a simple task, but it has been incredibly challenging considering how *cough cough* busy I have been lately.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

People need support, regardless of the degree of their workload // Surprisingly, people seem impressed when I don’t talk about my workload. Often this sounds something like, “aren’t you balancing two jobs? What about classes? How do you manage everything?” At this point, the conversation is less about how busy we are and more about the tools and resources that have helped us get through the semester. I greatly appreciate these conversations because we end up sharing our resources and establishing a support system between the two of us.  Avoiding discussions about being busy leaves room for conversations about how to support each other during the busiest times.

People are relieved when I talk about something other than my own workload // I never thought I could help relieve someone’s stress by avoiding discussions about my own.  Avoiding discussions about busy-ness challenges us to reframe our conversations when we are talking to others.  This type of reframe guides us to have more light-hearted conversations which results in less stress for everyone involved.

Ultimately, the goal is not to work less; the goal is to work more intentionally.

Working intentionally does not lesson the quality of our work.  Instead, working intentionally means we are being more deliberate about the way we approach our workload in order to avoid being “too busy” while still being productive.

What steps are you taking to avoid being overwhelmingly busy?

xo vm

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