Why do we glorify being busy?
It’s a Friday night, and I’ve just had a long nine-hour day. And by long, I mean jam packed from the second I got to work until the second that I left. I think everyone and their dog needed something from me today, which isn’t abnormal but everyone and everything seemed extra extra today.
I get in the car, and start compiling my evening to-do list. Dinner, finish work emails, bathe kid, throw in a load of laundry, get a couple of chapters in, maybe do a quick workout, finish a few more emails, and then maybe just maybe wind down.
Fast forward to getting home and it has just rained. The yard is green and lush. The smell in the air has never been fresher. I have a Starbucks matcha latte in hand (matcha to contribute to keeping me even more wired). What should be a moment of serenity and complete quiet to myself is immediately interrupted with thoughts of job-related tasks, all of the things I should be doing, and then immediate guilt for not doing said things that my mind is convinced I should be doing. And then the replay list of my car to-do list begins.
Being a parent, especially a mom, we are hard hired to constantly go. We feel we need to be everything for everyone, but this constant need to be busy is even a step further than the normal mom obsessiveness. It’s a real problem that not only I struggle with, but so many other people do as well. But it’s become the norm, so no one challenges or questions it.
When did being busy every second of the day become a badge of honor that we wear so proudly? Why am I literally and physically incapable of just being? Why do I always have to be committing to some volunteer opportunity, seeking yet another part-time gig on top of my already time-consuming full-time job, or ruining perfectly quiet moments with more thoughts of extra tasks?
I know I’m not alone, because I look around and the majority of people seem to be on the endless marathon of being dragged from one thing to another just like I am. But the saddest thing of it all is how long I’ve glorified being busy. How long I’ve allowed myself to participate in this behavior. I have convinced myself that being busy equates to success. Being constantly busy means leveling up. Being busy and not leaving any time for your brain to decompress has become routine.
So how do I fix it? How do we fix it?
I think it begins with recognition. If you’re a morning person like me, it is opening the shades on the picture window to watch the sunrise in complete silence. It is letting the dog out in the backyard and listening to the birds. It is driving in silence from one place to the next so you can hear your thoughts. It is taking five minutes before bed to deep breathe and maybe practice some gratitude. It is just holding your child on the couch guilt-free without thinking about the dishes needing to be unloaded.
After recognition, it is changing the behavior. It is one thing to catch yourself in the act, but it’s a whole other ballgame to actually do something about it. The next time you’re asked to volunteer on a Saturday, which happens to be the first “free day” you’ve had in five weeks, just tell the person no. It is me leaving work an hour or two early and acknowledging that all of my work left to do on the desk will be waiting in the same place for me tomorrow, but my daughter needing a bath and bedtime story is short lived.
I don’t think life has to be so busy. And being busy doesn’t mean happiness. Being busy doesn’t mean success. Being busy isn’t something to glorify, because it means you aren’t actually participating in your life, you’re sprinting through it. Next time you want to plunge into yet another task, ask yourself, is this necessary or something just to fill my precious time? Cheers to a life of being less busy.