THE BLOG

Are You Busy Being Busy?

04/16/2015 02:24 pm ET | Updated Jun 16, 2015

"Beware the barrenness of a busy life." -- Socrates

"I am so busy" is a default response for many of us these days. It's like a reflex to any questions we might receive from others.

"How are you?"
"Oh, I'm so busy!"

"Have you got time to meet up later?"
"Can't, too busy!"

"Could you help me out by doing a small favor?"
"No, too busy."

Now, admittedly plenty of us are really busy so maybe these responses are justified. However, sometimes it's what we're busy with that may need a closer look.

Busy Being Busy
This would seem to be a modern day obsession.

A whole time management and productivity market has evolved in recent years to help deal with our modern obsession with busy.

People busying themselves being busy is now a norm. No time to rest, little time for friends and family, no time to think, let's just be busy. Busy and harried doing lots of things of little or no real significance at times.

Too harsh?

Well, is spending two hours a day on your smartphone checking Facebook updates a justifiable reason to be too busy to meet a real life friend in person?

Is being busy with an overflowing inbox of emails a better use of your time than just checking email less often and getting on with some more important work instead?

The Busy Boast

Being busy isn't really something that we should boast about yet many of us do. It's seen as some badge of honor and bizarrely something to strive for.

Yet busy is not the default state for really high achievers or the greatest minds of our time. These people work hard don't get me wrong but they often focus in on only a few key areas. They channel their energy into what is important to them.

The Implications of Busyness
The implications of all this busyness are significant.

It can lead to:
- More stress
- More anxiety
- Less happiness
- The constant pursuit of the next achievement (never fully enjoying what we have already accomplished)
- Not getting anything really worthwhile done at all
- Feeling like we are chasing our tails
- Confusing the nonsense with the important
- Less time for family and friends
- Less time to spend on our passion projects and hobbies

That's a pretty long list of not very ideal situations and it's only scratching the surface. It shouldn't be this way. Life is to be lived not to be spent in a constant state of busy.

The Answers
To combat and defeat busyness we need to change our approach. We need to:
- Get comfortable saying no sometimes
- Recognize our own limits and when we need to push back
- Identify what is really important to us (our goals, people in our lives, who we want to be) and make space for these things a priority
- Recognize the important tasks from the not so important tasks
- Get rid of the noise and stuff that doesn't matter as much as possible
- Realize we can't do it all
- Put down the smartphone occasionally and stop being in a reactive state the whole time
- Make some time to think, to do some self-inventory
- Make some time to relax
- Make some time to just be

Being busy is not inherently a bad thing if we're busy with things that we care about and that truly matter to us. But being constantly busy with things that don't support our feelings of wellbeing, blur our clarity and wear us down must be avoided.

A Call to Arms
Let's defeat busyness.
Let's get our priorities crystal clear and align our life to them.
Let's make time for our loved ones.
Let's walk a less conventional path if we have to.
Let's lead by example not just follow the herd.
Let's welcome the right sort of busy into our lives -- busy with our goals and busy with people we care about.
Let's get busy for busy sake out of our lives.

Carl is the proud owner of Frictionless Living which is focused on helping readers live a simpler and more personally satisfying life. He is also the author of several books including 22 Ways to Happier, 22 Ways to Simpler Living and Frictionless Email. To read more and/or contact him go to his site.