Note to Self: Life on Garden Time does not mean Life on Frantic Time.
“Oh, I’ve just been so busy.”
“With all the kid’s activities, I’ve just been so busy!”
“With the new job, I’ve just been so busy!”
“I don’t know what it is, it’s just crazy busy right now.”
“Wow, I wish I had time to garden (exercise/volunteer/read/etc.) but I’m just too busy.”
“The past couple months have been insanely busy.”
“Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner. You know how it is – busy, busy, busy!”
Guilty of Busy Talk?
Look, someone needs to say it: no one cares how busy you are. Well, maybe your mom does, but pretty much no one else. So stop announcing to everyone you talk to how busy you are. We are all busy. Everyone is trying to cram 80 minutes worth of life into each hour of their day, so being busy isn’t unique.
In fact, being that busy might be downright dysfunctional.
- Being busy does not make you important.
- Announcing how busy you are is like announcing that you have to take time out of your life to use the bathroom. It’s a given, ok? It does not make the rest of us look at you in wonder or awe or sympathy.
- Your inability to say no, your lack of boundary setting or your decision to take on too much are not the same as dedication, passion, commitment or helpfulness. Stop confusing these things.
- Your version of busy is not in any way more significant or world-rocking than anyone else’s version of busy. Stop thinking your busy is busier than other people’s busy.
Every day, most of us drink poison cool-aid from the Cult of Busy. We gulp it down just like we gulp down the coffee that allows us to continue to worship Busy. We make choices – consciously in what we agree to do and by default because we refuse to prioritize – that directly lead to our prostration before Busy.
Some people genuinely believe in The Cult of Busy. They love the fulfillment that comes with the constant, unending motion of busy. They love the 1,000-action-item-to-do list and they love hovering around other people, desperate to take on yet more responsibilities that aren’t really their own. They are True Believers in The Cult of Busy.
The rest of us, if we’re honest about it, we don’t really want to worship Busy. Busy’s not a good fit for us. We like the image of being busy, maybe, because somhow busy has become synonymous with important.
But busy doen’t really make us feel important, it makes us feel exhausted, overburdened, overwhelmed or trapped. We put our head down and put our hands together and pray that if we just work hard enough and smart enough for a little longer, one day we won’t feel busy anymore. Busy feels synonymous with flailing.
Joining the Productivity Priesthood
What the rest of us want is to join the Productivity Priesthood. The Productivity Priesthood is far too engaged in activities that truly matter to winger on and on about how busy they are. They handle the responsibilities in their daily lives but manage to keep focus on those things that matter most to them. On the rare occasion that a member of the Productivity Priesthood mentions being busy, they say it with a smile, with contentment.
You cannot work your way out of The Cult of Busy, it’s simply not possible. You can only prioritize your way out, and sometimes that’s harder because it means saying no. “I’m not able to do that right now,” can be a very uncomfortable phrase for people raised up in The Cult of Busy. It can feel just like, “I’m not good enough,” or “I can’t handle my shit.”
It’s wonderful to have a full, varied, diverse life, but somewhere along the line being perpetually overwhelmed has became some sort of badge of honor. Well, I’m-Always-Just-So-Busy is a stupid God to bow down to, and a stupid thing to seek praise for. Saying No to the trivial is the only way to say Yes to the most important.
I’m making the commitment to break from The Busy Cult right now. If I find myself saying, “Well, I’ve just been so busy!” in a way that betrays poor time management or prioritization on my part, or – far worse – some sort of call for sympathy because I’m living the life I’ve asked for, I’m going to ask myself why I feel ensnared by Busy.
- If the answer is an activity I’ve committed to but don’t enjoy, I’m going to graciously back out.
- If the answer is a distraction that has kept me from prioritizing the essential, I’m going to cut back on the distraction (I’m talking to you, email and Facebook).
- If the answer is an activity I love, I will work to streamline how I engage in that activity.
- If the answer is the frustration from the unending demands of raising a family, I’m going to remind myself what the whole point of this slow-ish lifestyle is, anyway.
- If I am trapped by my own habitual vocabulary, I’m going to focus on changing how I think by changing the language I think in. When I am truly engaged in work I love – even if there is an awful lot of it – I am going to describe my life as full, and I am going to speak with gratitude for my full life, and the true luxury that I have this particular full life that I love so much.
That’s it, I’m done. I’m breaking away from the Cult of Busy. I’m making a run for it, and you are welcome to run with me. Have you become inadvertently trapped in The Cult of Busy? What can you do – and what are you going to do – to get out?