“I wish I could, but I’m just so busy.”
Busyness is something we talk about a lot in our world. Our culture has a weird obsession with the concept of “being busy.” We view our time as a means of currency, and busyness is the best way to get our money’s worth. We spend every minute trying to be as productive as we can, treating any moment not devoted to our goals as a waste. In fact, we’re so fixated on “being busy” that we perceive our busiest moments as our best ones.
That time you only got four hours of sleep because you were up finishing a project? That day you spent glued to your laptop because you were so preoccupied with work? In our culture, these are not just triumphs of a good work ethic, but badges of pride and honor. These are things we can brag about to our friends and on social media, because there’s nothing we hold in higher regard than being busy.
I myself have certainly fallen prey to the world’s fascination with busyness. I couldn’t even estimate the number of times I’ve gotten caught up in the grand allure of multitasking (which really isn’t that effective, tbh) and attempted to get a million things done in as little time as humanely possible. I’m doing it now, actually. As I write this post, I’m simultaneously checking my email and thinking through a series of things I’ll have to get done tomorrow.
Even though I engage in these behaviors on a regular basis, I feel like I have to admit that busyness and the desire for nearly constant productivity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (yikes…sorry for that rhyme). While busyness sounds great in theory, it’s much different in practice.
For starters, it’s
hard impossible. Expecting yourself to “be busy” all the time is setting yourself up for failure. It’s creating a goal that is a 100 percent, without-a-doubt unattainable. A goal that no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to fully achieve.
In addition to its lack of realism, being busy every moment of every day doesn’t actually increase your productivity. We get tired. We get worn down. And, eventually, these things will take their toll. Even if you somehow manage to work yourself to the point of total and complete exhaustion, you won’t be able to do it in your top form. And what’s the point of being busy all the time if, you know, you aren’t actually getting stuff done?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t celebrate hard work; hard work should always be celebrated. But the commemoration of our accomplishments and achievements shouldn’t take precedence over every single thing in our lives. We shouldn’t be so wired on doing well and making the most of every minute that we feel guilty about taking breaks and doing fun, nonproductive things.
I don’t want to feel bad about watching Netflix for a couple of hours instead of doing my laundry, and neither should you. Success and productivity should be important parts of our lives, but we shouldn’t live by the idea that taking a few hours for ourselves here and there and spending them in “unproductive” ways is a bad thing.
We need to stop glorifying busyness. We need to stop passing around the idea that we should feel bad about ourselves if every new day isn’t our most productive. Most importantly, we need to let ourselves breathe and remember that we’re doing the best we can.
Do you feel a pressure to be busy all the time?