An Accomplished Life
“Hi, Tom, how are you?”
“I’m well, Jane, just swamped.”
“Oh, I’m glad to hear you’re keeping busy then,”
“Yes, I’m flat out at the moment.”
The above interaction is one that takes place between people on a daily.
But what is behind the busyness?
Is it a way to deflect attention from what matters?
People brag about their busy lives to highlight themselves living an accomplished life to their peers.
Similarly, they may wish to communicate how meaningful their work is and, so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Being occupied implies oneself is consumed with matters of significance. That is why people state their busyness, to have you know they are essential.
Busy people struggle to keep their attention in the present moment because their focus lies in future events and planning for the next project.
“We become active and busy, but this doesn’t move us any closer to success. Activity is often unrelated to productivity, and busyness rarely takes care of business,” states authors Gary Keller and Jay Papasan in, The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
I question those who have a hectic schedule as a method to divert their attention from connecting with their core self.
The title quote by the Greek philosopher Socrates invites you to be wary of a busy life which can be barren.
The busy person is disconnected from others, simply because their attention is to focus on their commitments. There is the impression of a purposeless life, masked behind the facade of a frantic lifestyle.
Busyness can be reframed to imply your pursuits are purposeful instead of busy.
Gary Keller and Jay Papasan affirm, “Don’t focus on being busy; focus on being productive. Allow what matters most to drive your day.”
Busy or Just Unproductive?
You can be busy but not productive and still chase your tail.
Beneath the busyness lies the unconscious desire to get rewarded for hard work.
People believe being preoccupied is impressive and associated with status. You must be pursuing something prestigious. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be busy.
In an episode of the Seinfeld sitcom where the character George Costanza, played by Jason Alexander, walks around the office looking annoyed he realizes that being busy is associated with stress and works hard to uphold this facade.
He appears irritated, causing his supervisor; Mr. Wilhelm to fear George is cracking under the pressure of his work.
While this scenario is fictional, it shows how people unconsciously use busyness to draw attention to themselves.
Similarly, you may believe multitasking is indicative of productivity. Busyness implies being on top of things, which is often the furthest thing from the truth.
“Productivity isn’t about being a workhorse, keeping busy or burning the midnight oil… It’s more about priorities, planning, and fiercely protecting your time,” affirms associate editor at Psych Central, Margarita Tartakovsky.
The busy pandemic comes at a cost to people’s well-being and happiness. You may find it difficult to disconnect from work to spend time with family. These are the pursuits that rejuvenate you instead of depleting you.
Busyness can be a sign of procrastination. It is a smoke screen to cover up being overwhelmed and in need of help to prioritize your life.
Consequently, those in the creative field will tell you they are absorbed in their interests and not busy with work.
It was the late Stephen R Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People who said, “It is possible to be busy-very busy-without being very effective.”
The Demands of a Hectic Schedule
It is vital that you set clear boundaries if you wish to be satisfied. Busy people find it difficult to say no since they do not desire to offend others or perceived as incapable.
I’m yet to meet a busy person satisfied with their hectic schedule. I’m sure they would trade their hectic life for less work, more time and, money.
Occasionally, you might be pulled by circumstances not, of your choosing. The business may unexpectedly increase if you’re self-employed as you try to meet the pressures of growing sales. But that doesn’t mean you are happy if all you are doing is working to provide for the demands of other people.
You have a choice of how you spend your time. To claim you are busy is failing to prioritize your time wisely.
“Everybody’s busy. Everyone does the actions. But were they the right actions? Were those actions productive? Did you take a step forward? These are questions that most people never take the time to think about,” reminds us author Jeff Olson in, The Slight Edge.
After all, what is the purpose of being busy and stressed to the point of exhaustion that your health and relationships suffer, to improve your bottom line?
Surely, there’s a more efficient way to work in the 21 century while enjoying more leisure time?
Busy people are prone to be overwhelmed if they continue to drive themselves hard. It is not healthy to run yourself into the ground and expect to stop at the drop of a hat.
Something must give. That may be as excessive drinking to help you wind down or toxic behaviors such as compulsive eating, gambling, or, whatever distracts you from what is critical.
We all have the same hours in the day and how you spend it is entirely up to you. Many people squander their time running around believing, they are productive when they are merely busy due to their lack of organization and prioritization.
“We are so busy being enticed by the next endeavor that we forget to savor what is already there and could be deeply meaningful. It is useful to remember the adage “The more things change, the more they remain the same” avows author Bernard Roth in, The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life.
A better way to reframe busyness is to state you are productive or engaged in what you are doing. Conversely, communicating you have taken on more than you can handle, is a step towards reclaiming your lost time.
This action is not a cry for help, but exposing your vulnerability to those willing to help you better manage your time.
Find ways to be less busy and more engaged, so you are in Flow, as the Hungarian psychology Professor, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi espouses.
Busyness is not indicative of a rewarding life if all you are doing is jumping from one task to the next.
Those who manage their time successfully hold on to it like it was their last breath; they prioritize what is significant, and so should you.
I invite you to think with the end in mind as Stephen R. Covey conveys in his teachings.
Only then will you appreciate what matters and worth devoting your time and energy to.