Have you noticed how being busy seemingly has become life’s ultimate pursuit? It’s now highly fashionable to ‘be busy’. ‘Busy’ has become a buzz-word. In our current pressured times, it seems many of us operate on the assumption that if you’re busy, then you’re fully alive. This ‘busyness’ has meant that a bygone era of more relaxed living has almost been forgotten. Our collective consciousness might be hard pressed to recall how life used to be ten, twenty or more years ago. It’s hard to remember a time before technology helped us create a world where any meaningful down-time has to be forensically quarantined because being constantly available – and having access around the clock is considered the norm.
Those people who do remember a less pacy time talk fondly about the ability to just ‘be’ and hang out without feeling guilty because they haven’t consulted their mobile devices in the last hour. When technological pressures were a thing of the future, people tended to find their own amusements which had the potential for becoming creative and thinking laterally about things to do. When amusement is available to you as readily as it is today, there’s less pressure to be creative about what you could be doing – and certainly less time to be reflective. If you’re constantly ‘on’ and buzzy, you can’t possibly have time to reflect about what might really be going on in your life – your relationship, your job, your free time. When your time is totally absorbed, you don’t have the liberty to be free – and follow that serendipitous idea, check out a crazy notion or just lie still and stare at the ceiling in a meditative way.
Today’s catch-cry of ‘being busy’ can be seen as a way of ensuring that the quality of our personal relationships is not examined fully. Yet, research findings have consistently found that the quality of our personal relationships is the key to the quality of our lives. Losing sight of the quality of our relationships can lead to disastrous personal consequences.
Laziness is not attractive and the solution to being less busy is not to advocate laziness. However, regular periods of idleness can be good for us. It gives us precious time to reflect on the meaning of our lives and stimulates our creativity.
Sometimes it seems that people who are proudly busy – often excessively so – believe it’s a clever form of escapism. When someone claims they ‘don’t have the time’, all sorts of behaviour becomes acceptable. Prefer to spend more time at work than at home? Lost sight of the real priorities in your life? Complain about your life filled with frenetic activity? Think about it. Perhaps being busy provides you with a way of avoiding what’s going on in your life. Escape to busyness and keep all the important and tricky questions about relationships and life at bay.
The problem with being busy is that it robs you of reflection time – and real time with real people in your life. Devotion to busyness can be dangerous – it can become an obsession. Like all obsessions, busyness, has the power to victimise us.
People are free to make whatever choices they wish. But, having made a choice that embraces busyness can become disempowering in the long run. Life has a lot to offer us. By narrowing your choices and becoming obsessed with the idea that being busy is a good thing in itself, you might well be missing out on all the other good things in life – the sweet and mysterious things – nature, beauty in art and performance and personal relationships.
Busyness is not an inherent virtue. Don’t become a victim to being busy – take time out to reflect on why you need to be this busy. You might just surprise yourself.
You can read more about how to bust your ‘busyness’ cycle in Slowing the Pace.