I had once asked a small town friend who was visiting my city, “What did you find most intriguing about this place?” A long pause followed. She pondered and then said “I don’t know how and why there are so many people rushing about. Wonder what they’re doing that makes them so busy all the time.” It had never struck me as anything odd or out of place till I heard what she had to say. It was actually a profound observation and translated onto many levels of our city lives today. But what is this busy-ness in the first place? Have we blindly created a culture of ‘busy-ness’ and urgency rather than that of results and accomplishments?
The Busy-ness Culture
“I’m really busy. I have a meeting coming up. And a follow up meeting for that meeting so I’ll have to skip lunch. Oh, and I’m going to be home late tonight. Maybe after 1AM. Will work late all of this week. I might have to miss my brother’s birthday for this project.”
“Hey, how have you been?”
“I’ve been really, really busy”
Do you identify this hysteria? I hope you haven’t fallen prey to it.
The people indulging in the behavior of ‘busy-ness’ gain a sort of satisfaction from it. Is it contentment from a false ‘full utilization’ of time? I will never know as my work mantra is very, very different- based entirely on productivity. I remember focusing my energies towards completing a task as effectively, as quick as possible! But what I see today is a reverse policy. There are people who stretch tasks and meetings (unnecessarily!). But what do they gain from this? The core ideology of ‘busy-ness’ stems from a societal dogma- “Are you working hard enough?” There are some delusions surrounding the life of a hard working, successful professional. It almost demands that the person has no time whatsoever for his family or even himself.
Sometimes being ‘busy’ can mean you’re having high workload to overcome. But sometimes being ‘busy’ can also mean you’re not focused enough and/or do not have the ability to assess the effort and time you should dedicate to a task. Busy-ness can also simply be a state of mind inflicted on the body, constantly striving to stay ‘busy’. As an observer of this culture, here are my 2 cents. The main problem with this lifestyle is not workload, but a failure to manage time well.
Busy-ness Leads to Neglect
A major component accompanying the busy-ness culture is a tendency to Neglect. The ‘busy’ give in to their penchant for not having time for their nearest and dearest people, even their fondest of foods (yes, food has feelings too and knows when you neglect it). Hey lets be real! They don’t even have time for themselves! Those hoping to lead the lifestyle of busy-ness embrace various misconceptions. The most common being sleeping very little is the law in busy-land! If you are getting a healthy amount of sleep, you aren’t doing it right. Well let me tell them, contrary to their beliefs, it makes them sound rather foolish. Only a fool would prefer 3 hours of rest to a healthy 8. It is doing yourself a great disservice.
When you’re past the working age, I fear, such people are going to regret how they spent their time ruthlessly, in a rather ‘ineffective’ manner.
Busy-ness: Incorrect Measurement of Productivity
Busy-ness is a false measurement of how productive you are in a day. They say the proof is in the pudding so all your hard work culminate into one TANGIBLE solution/project/idea; and that is the only proof there ever will be.
The number of meetings you held, lunches you skipped, birthdays you have forgotten, calls you never returned are not what you should take pride in. You see, there’s a wide difference between projection and truth. A skilled actor projects well enough to win Academy Awards. But you and I are not eligible. So why try? Why try to prove your worth externally through means which are false?
Choose Productivity Over Busy-ness
Remember you are not a cyborg! Here’s something you must try.
First way to dive out of busy-ness would be by setting aside some alone time and actually listening to the birds chirp and the leaves rustle early in the morning. With a calmer, well rested mind, you are more likely to understand what it is that your heart would want to do today. This is also help you prioritize (because, for once, you are actually giving a thought at “What should I do today?”); it is more meaningful that ineffective busy-ness.
If you are a leader, understand that it’s not about flying cross country to deliver lectures and speeches while your own team struggles back at home as you have no time for them. Understand that the time at hand is limited, don’t evade it! Try to fulfill your responsibilities and shower the ones you love with care. It is more gratifying than ‘busyness’ can ever be. And yes, society dotes and respects the son who gives his parents love and attention despite being time-tied! Only play out your productive planner, not the one that hangs in your office, only to tell others the tale of how ‘you just don’t have any time’.