“Are you really as busy as you think you are?” starts popular workplace blog Ask A Manager’s recent post. Alison Green’s blog is one of my favorites and a post from last month touches on an issue which is becoming more and more common both in and out of the workplace.
The illusion of being busy
You can check out the whole Ask A Manager busyness post here and the interesting comments section, which is just as fun to read as the posts themselves.
Alison quotes a Slate article that gets to the crux of the matter:
The art of busyness is to convey genuine alarm at the pace of your life and a helpless resignation, as if someone else is setting the clock, and yet simultaneously make it clear that you are completely on top of your game. These are not exactly humble brags. They are more like fretful brags, and they are increasingly becoming the idiom of our age.
And this is alarming.
We all have 24 hours each day to use how we please. That’s 1,440 minutes and 86,400 seconds. How do you use all of yours?
Being busy has become a game of who can do the most at the expense of others in your life and your own health and sanity. Who can do the most and keep it all together? But your busy is most definitely different than my busy. We all have our limits. Some people’s lives are normally busy but they can magically pull it all together and balance family, friends and work with endless ease. Other types of busy result in major stress when we have a lot going on, don’t know how to prioritize and feel out of control.
My question is, why do we allow ourselves to become so busy that we miss out on what matters — genuine interaction with friends and family and quiet time to ourselves where we can calmly just be.
Beyond the idea of busy as a pissing contest of who can do the most, it’s also become an excuse to not return that phone call or email and to keep people at arm’s length. But are we really that busy? Maybe. But maybe it’s an issue of prioritization. Take for example a friend who I’ve known since high school who is a new mom with a thriving photography business. She has three dogs, one of which is special needs, yet she always makes time for me. When I email her, she writes back in a matter of hours. If I call, I know she’ll answer and if she’s unable to, she’ll call back when she can. Sometimes we go months without talking but when she writes me or vice versa, we make time for each other. She’s definitely busy but has never used it as an excuse to be a bad friend. To her, it’s clear that friendships are a priority and that means so much to me because I feel exactly the same way.
Whatever you’re doing today, focus 100% on it. There’s nothing worse than talking to someone knowing that they’re half engaged in the conversation. You can hear their keyboard clicking away or other things going on in the background. They’re not really paying attention and you feel like you’re talking to yourself. Being busy does affect those around you and not always in the best of ways. If you are perpetually busy, ask yourself how it’s been working for you… We can all do better.
So to sum this up, people won’t remember everything you do or say but they’ll remember how you made them feel.
How do you make those around you feel despite this busyness? Do you make them feel like they matter and that they’re worthy of your time? Even when you don’t have much? If you don’t like the answer, you know what you need to do.