It’s amazing at how many people I work with who own their own business or run their own company and are so “busy”. They don’t have time to keep track of things. “I’m too busy.” They don’t have time to follow systems. “I’m swamped right now.” They don’t have time to work out. “Sorry, too busy.” They don’t have to eat properly. “I’m totally stacked.” They don’t have time for fun. “I’m crazy busy.” They don’t have time for their family. “I’m slammed.” I think you get the point.
This seems to be the default answer in the hallways of the office, in the elevator, in the lineup at the coffee shop, on the phone. The thing I’m seeing however though, and especially with those who own their own business, is that the busyness is SELF-IMPOSED!
More and more, people are choosing to be busy. They are choosing to take more on. Typically at the expense of their health and family. This begs me to ask the question why? Why do we have to be so busy? I pose a few reasons although I’m sure there are many more.
1. Keeping up with the Joneses
If you haven’t seen the movie, The Joneses you should watch it. A family is inserted into a neighbourhood purely to purchase extravagant items to make the neighbours feel insignificant. The neighbours, needing to be “better”, go out and purchase similar or better items.
Put simply, people are buying more things or more stuff in order to be “happier”. However, in order to purchase this stuff, they have to take out an additional mortgage on their house meaning they need to work longer hours, they have to get additional credit cards meaning they need to get a second job, and so on.
This cycle of needing more “stuff” to fulfill artificial happiness or perceived success is making everyone work more hours of the day trying to make more money so they can pay for all of this “happiness”.
2. Developing proteges
Way to many parents these days have their kids in every sport, every music lesson, every art class. Parents spend their entire evening every evening driving their kids to this, taking their kids to that. The family never has a meal together. The family never actually talks to each other. We are training our kids to be busier than ever.
Too many parents think their kid is the next Michael Jordan and they have to get in 10,000 hours of training before they’re 10 years old so that they can have success. Parents want their kids to be better than the other kids. Whatever happened to letting kids just be kids? Kids don’t play any more. Rather their lives are structured every 15 minutes both inside and outside of school.
I think we’re training our kids to be just like us. Except like us on steroids. Kids are as busy as adults these days. No wonder when they hit their late teens and early twenties they’re burnt out. They’re bloody exhausted!
3. Fear of not being busy
I’ve heard this many times, “When I’m busy, I’m at my best – I get in the zone, it’s like time stands still.” What I think I’m really hearing is, “I’m so busy and running around like a chicken with its head chopped off that I don’t have time to think about all the other concerns in my life.” When these people are so busy working, they can block out that they’re overweight, they can block out that their marriage is failing, they can block out that they’re never available to pick their kids up at school.
It’s purely my opinion but people that are this busy are actually afraid of what it’s like to actually contemplate their own life. They are afraid of the slow times. They are afraid to sit down and actually think about their situation or their life. They are afraid to consider that maybe they aren’t happy. They are afraid to consider that maybe they’re so busy because they’re actually unsatisfied and being busy is the perfect mask.
I think this last one is the real reason we’re so busy. We’re afraid of not being busy and everything that brings with it.
How to break the busyness habit
I have a large amount of work that I do. I am a consultant, coach, athlete, producer/director, blogger and husband. However, I’m not busy, unless I choose to be. My wife and I have several days where we just lounge around. We love those days. I regularly will take time to myself just to think, just to see what comes in to my head. Some times I sit down and read a book. How can I do all of those things and still find time for me?
I make time. Time for me. Time for health. Time for space. Time to relax. I make the choice to have more of that in my life. It gives me balance. It let’s me make sure I’m on the right track for me.
Yeah sure, I manage my time, and I have systems in place to make me as efficient as possible, but I also CHOOSE to take time out and play, take time for fun, take time for dates with my wife, take time for dates with myself. I no longer am busy and I feel so much better because of it.
Post article thoughts and other articles on busyness
When searching for a good image for this post I came across the following articles on busyness. I’m obviously not the only one who has an opinion on this subject.