The topic that has been on my mind for a while is busyness. It seems in this world of constant engagement; it is a badge of honour to be busy. It is even a response to how a person is doing.
“How are you doing today Bob?”
“Never a bad thing to be busy!”
Being busy has become a way of life. Everyone knows a person that comes rushing in the room talking on their cell phone, spinning like the Tasmanian Devil. The analysis of this person would be, “they are soooo busy.” Is this a good thing? Is this something we should be proud of?
Busy vs Productive
The concept of busyness vs productivity was brought to my attention by Tim Ferriss in his book The 4 Hour Work Week. He poses this question through his writing. Are we being productive or just busy?
Tim Ferriss states the following about being busy:
“Being busy is a form of laziness – lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.” – Tim Ferriss, The 4 Hour Work Week
When I see a person rushing around “acting busy.” I think, “this person’s life is out of control.” There is no doubt there are busy people. A single parent with three kids is busy. A person that is working their way through college with a full course load and a full-time job is busy. A medical worker working multiple shifts because of lack of staff is busy. There are many good reasons to be busy.
The people I am talking about is the everyday people who work a 9 to 5 – Monday to Friday and still seem to be busy. What’s causing this busyness is the anxiety of life. The though of slowing down and being one with there own thoughts is scarier for people than being busy. They are the people who always seem to be planning something. The people who are doing something every night of the week. And they complain about being busy. Although they are busy because they choose to be.
Let us make a side note. If you are an extrovert that loves to be around people, that is great! Being around people is your way of relaxing. Your way of taking a load off at the end of the day. So technically you are not busy because you are unwinding the way you want to relax.
But if you are busy doing things you do not want to do. Remember you chose to do those things.
Busy does not equal success.
Is there a need for children’s lives to be full of activities? Should a 10-year-old busy?
So much of our development occurs when we are not doing anything. When we are just spending time practicing our craft. If you want to play in the NBA; a dream a lot of kids have. You do not accomplish this goal by going to basketball practice 5 days a week. You accomplish this goal in your downtime. You accomplish this goal in the hours you spend not being busy. When you are standing in your driveway alone shooting free throws, practicing your dribbling, and doing layups. The busyness of your life is what makes you average. What causes you to not succeed. No one ever mastered a craft by not being focused.
If a week is structured the following way you may need to rethink things.
• Monday – Banjo Lessons
• Tuesday – Basketball Practice
• Wednesday – Girl Guides
• Thursday – Cricket Practice
• Friday – Monster Truck Repair Class
• Saturday – Tap Dance
• Sunday – Sword Fighting
I picked some random activities to give an idea of what I am referring too. Where is the time to master a skill? The above schedule seems like a lot of fun bust has no focus. There is no time to just experiment and be creative. There is no time to truly become great at something.
As a kid I grew up having two activities in my life hockey and guitar. There is no doubt that hockey occupied a lot of my evenings. And guitar lessons were another night of the week. I am not saying I mastered one of these skills and became elite. I am saying is there was a direction in my time. I was not spinning from activity to activity each night of the week.
The evenings where I did not have an activity were spent practicing the guitar or playing ball hockey. Again, I am not saying I ever mastered a skill, but I did have the time required to learn the skill. And both above activities stuck with me for a life. It didn’t just become something I did as a kid. Like Derek Sivers says, “don’t be a donkey.” Pick a direction and stick with it. Being “busy” makes you a donkey!
You only have 80 years to live.
This may seem morbid but on average humans only have 80 years to live. I heard someone talking about this in an interview. As humans we only have 80 years to live out of the 14 billion years the universe has been around. And the universe will hopefully be around for another 14 billion years. So why spend your life being so busy that you can even stop to appreciate your accomplishments.
Humans have a very limited amount of time to make a difference in this world. So why should we spend our most valuable resource, time, so effortlessly. We overcommit and spend our days spinning out of control. Only to wake up the next day and do it all over again. We spend our lives being busy and not being happy.
I am not telling very one to sit idly by and have no aspirations. I am saying to stop being busy for the sake of being busy. It benefits no one. Neither your employer nor yourself. Much of our work can be done automatically by machines. For the “busy” things we can literally have a computer do it for us.
Let look at cleaning out your email inbox. It takes some people days to do this but why should it? It a simple thing to set up a rule in outlook and have your emails auto filed as they enter your mailbox. By setting up one rule in outlook. You have just freed yourself from days of work. I am going to guess that no one wants to spend any of the 80 years we have in this world filing emails. Let the computers do it for us! There are so many simple ways to automate the little things in life that keep us busy. All it takes is a bit of creativity and research.
When I started this post, I honestly did not know where I was going with it. Like I said in my opening paragraph, I have been thinking about the busyness concept for a while. And I felt it was a good time to get my thoughts on paper. Sometimes I feel I am watching a world spinning out of control. If people took a few minutes to slow down and focus. Things would get much better for them. If I can leave you with one message, it’s be productive not busy. Make the best use of the limited time we have.
Hopefully, you enjoyed this article. If you are interested in hearing more from me subscribe to my website or look me up on Instagram @the_52_book_challenge. Check back next week for my next post!