The ‘Busy’ Trap

I read this N.Y. Times article today that really hit home called “The ‘Busy’ Trap.”

While I don’t feel like I’m someone who always immediately responds that I’m ‘so busy,’ when asked how I’m doing, it’s certainly something I hear a lot — even people I just met at the conference I attended talked about this.

Like the article said, it’s like a badge of honor in some circles to be ‘so busy’ — and I sometimes feel guilty for not being as busy as others; as though by not being ‘so busy’ my work isn’t valued. But that isn’t true, either.

At the office, I am in a unique position where I work mostly alone — so while I have plenty to do, I create my own work flow, plan many of my own projects and events, and have mostly self-imposed deadlines — plus the occasional fire-drill that pops up and some client work throughout the year. This doesn’t mean it’s an excuse for me to slack off — not at all. It’s just that I have some degree of flexibility with respect to my projects and assignments, which isn’t the norm in the type of environment in which I work. Although some days might be more slammed than others, generally-speaking, I’m not likely to tell someone that I’m ‘so busy.’

Likewise, at home, aside from my 3 or 4-times-a-week Zumba class (which is either at 8:15 a.m. on a Saturday or 7:30 p.m. on a weeknight — i.e., after bath/story) , I’m fully engaged with my family. Maya has done several Saturday swimming sessions at the Y, but otherwise is too young for dance lessons or soccer lessons (Trust me, the moment we can enroll her we will!!). Reading this post was a good reminder that, when the time comes to get her involved in activities, not to over-do it.

I really liked this part: “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”

I liked this especially because I can’t be idle; I can’t sit still. It’s pathetic and I can’t even blame it on my anxiety issues; it’s one of those things I have always struggled with. Even when I’m watching TV, I’m either talking to Luis, talking on the phone, emailing, Facebooking, blogging … On a plane, I can’t close my eyes. Even when I’m flying alone, my nose is in a book. I’m SO rarely 100% in the moment … and, in fact, if I think about it honestly, I’m creating ‘busy’-ness in moments where busy-ness needn’t not exist! How sad is that?!

This was a good wake-up call; so much of how we live our lives is based upon awareness: being aware of our surroundings, how we are perceived, how we treat others, how we react to situations … And I think having read this will help me come up with my blog’s boiler plate and elevator speech — for which I am still behind the ball. 😉 Not because I’m ‘so busy’ but because I just haven’t wanted to carve out the time to do it.

How about you? Do you feel like you fall victim to the ‘busy’ trap? How can you extricate yourself from it?


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