The Myth of Busyness
You are probably very busy right now. The kind of busy that warrants communicating this otherwise insignificant fact to everyone you come in contact with.
The phrase "I'm so busy" rolls off the tongue with such ease that it’s become a catch phrase churned out with as much gusto as a presidential tweet. You, surely, have been guilty of using it.
But the "I'm so busy" phenomenon connotes something other than a rapid firing of neurons and overbooked schedules: a different hierarchy of needs. For the busy person, time is both the enemy and the friend and the hierarchy is founded on maximizing a loosely defined productivity and asserting one's importance via a three-word stock phrase.
The "busy" is not just the work, the assignment, the piles of papers on your desk, it is also, mostly, the self-imposed—the after school, the after work, the after-the-first-real-round of busy. Busyness is a conflation of all our real work, the work we choose to do, and the activities we pick up to prove our life is being lived.
I, a college student with few responsibilities other than attending school, have fallen into this trap. I skip lunch to work on assignments and study. I ignore phone calls and texts when they are at "inconvenient" times. My peers chatter off the phrase endlessly, but their "busy" is interpolated with Netflix.
Time has become so valuable that we are now in competition with it, work so important that people are secondary, eating food is relegated to your desk, and stress is a badge of honor. We are busy, so busy, and we wear this label proudly.
But what if we spent less time talking about how busy we are and more time accomplishing our work? Most of us are not working multiple jobs, solving world hunger, or spearheading a major social movement, unless of course, we are. We are saturated in our own self-importance and believe that an incomplete task, an accidental blundering will tip the world and our life's trajectory. We are not busy, only masterful pretenders of a phenomenon lodged deep in human history.
When we become sated in work and preoccupied with tasks, we forget to live our best lives and make time for the things that really matter. Creativity, productivity, and great work can happen in the territory that is uncultivated, unscheduled, unstructured, and blank when we carve out the time to enjoy the stuff that's worthwhile: people, lunch at places that are not our desks, and many more things too. Busyness is us in our head, living is us outside of it.
You are busy. Surely, you are so busy, but resist the urge to verbalize it via four-syllable whispers and texts. Embrace an endless stretch of idle time. Your “busyness” will be reduced, and your lunch al-desko will taste much better.