We live in a society where “I’ve been so busy” seems to be the go-to answer at any social gathering when asked how you're doing, yet it’s the same excuse that aggravates us when uttered by a friend as she stares down at her Blackberry during girls night.
Being busy has becoming the ultimate paradox. Numerous career columnists condemn the glorification of being busy, while providing us with ways to be more productive and get even more done during the day.
So what does being busy really mean, why is it talked about so often, and is it good or bad?
For many individuals, the need to feel busy comes from our desire to constantly engage, feel productive and have purpose in our lives. Rambling on about your busy schedule is more commonly used as a concealed brag than an authentic description of your day-to-day life because we feel that simply having nothing to do is not acceptable. The truth is, most people enjoy having a healthy amount of items on their to-do list and feel there’s a void when the list is empty, but there's a fine line between accomplishing goals and enjoying those successes and always worrying and worrying about the next deadline.
It’s important to remember we are the ones who make ourselves busy. We sign up to volunteer, we make dinner plans and we are consistently saying yes to our boss when we receive that last minute request at 10 p.m. on a Friday. Being busy, just like not being busy, is a choice.
The great news about this choice is if you are intentional with your commitments, you can find a way to decrease your anxiety-producing schedule. Allowing yourself to enjoy your activities means you can go back to what my mother always referred to as being a human being rather than a human doing. If you review the items on your to-do list and try to separate the “need to do’s” from the “want to do’s,” then you’ll be able to prioritize effectively, reduce your stress level and trade in “I’m just so busy” for “I’ve really enjoyed reading more lately.”
Your need to feel and tell people you are busy is disguising your need to have purpose and validation. The way to truly feel validated in your actions is by creating strategic and meaningful goals and accomplishing them. If you’re truly feeling overwhelmed, commit to saying “no” more often. If you need something to make you sound productive at parties, get a dictionary, because you need a new word to describe your life.