Got a question for you: What’s with all this busyness?
I have a friend who does not phone people; it takes up too much of her time. She only texts.
I recently called another friend who is going through a major life event to see how she’s doing. “Keeping busy,” was her reply.
I’m not pointing a finger at anyone; I’m a frequent flyer on Busyness Airlines. 😉
Multitasking, squeezing as much activity as possible into every day, and refusing to say “no” come at a high cost:
- Cluttering our days with meaningless yet time-consuming activity, including television or internet surfing. Passive busyness, I call it.
- Letting “good” stuff get in the way of the “great” stuff we could be accomplishing.
- Stunting our life’s trajectory and merely treading water at an elevated pace.
- Caving in to the need to prove how productive we are.
In the words of professional organizer Peter Walsh, it’s all too much. It’s life clutter.
But what’s behind the busyness epidemic?
I believe busyness becomes a mask behind which we evade fully embracing our struggles. Busyness becomes the Novocaine of our over-saturated lives, deadening us to feeling, interacting, and evolving. Busyness is a time vampire.
In a very insightful piece on busyness, Tim Kreider shares his take on the problem:
“They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.”
I’m learning (slowly) to take stock of what counts and what can be dumped. I won’t lie; it’s difficult. It means making tough choices about the “broad road” of accomplishing, producing, and achieving that we’re often programmed to traverse. Realizing that a lot of our busyness is self-imposed is a necessary first step in our rehab.
So, how do we wage war against “the busyness”?
- Recognize that nagging sense that you’re abusing your energy. The still, small voice of the Holy Spirit is often nudging us to re-examine what consumes our day.
- Acknowledge that physical and mental fatigue are byproducts of being overly busy. What if we choose to respond wisely to those thoughts and feelings that we’ve suppressed under busyness?
- Scope out the busyness vampires and put them on blast. Is your busyness beneficial? Has someone else’s life been made better through it? If it’s idleness dressed up as busyness, put some grave clothes on it and give it an quick burial.
- Choose whom you will serve. Trevin Wax explains in this blog post that “busyness drains you of creative potential. We all need boundaries. And we tend to be more effective when we focus on doing fewer things well.”
- Refuse to hide behind busyness masked as “ministry.” Those folks in Matthew 7:21-23 to whom Jesus will say “I knew you not” were super busy, but He didn’t recognize them. Their busyness was in vain.
Listen to the wisdom of Socrates: “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”
How can you cut back on the busyness?