Busy Trapped

We are losing the culture which defined Kiwis as relaxed, balanced, happy lifestylers who worked to live and whose creativity, sporting prowess and family involvement made our evenings and weekends special.

Particularly our educated middle class is now in a “busy” trap, propping our self-esteem by boasting about how busy we are. We hear this bragging all the time – “I am crazy busy!” All my weekends have gone – a huge project landed on me!” “Getting no more than 4 hours sleep!” “Can’t have coffee with your for six weeks!” “I work 12 hour days, and am falling further behind!” “I am generally the first to the carpark and the last to leave!” That Board meetings are now contaminated by directors browsing their phones is an especially impolite form of bragging.

Busyness is seen as virtuous, driven by ambition but also by anxiety. We fret that if we were not overloaded, we would not be achieving maximum output – as an employee, parent or person. The Busyness of an ambitious parent to optimise the development of the child is a phenomenon of this generation – juggling extramural lessons in gym, French, swim, dance, Maths, trisports, and leaving little time for purposeless play.

We are addicted to the drug of More. More conversations, more emails and texts, more social media, more information, more opinion, more meetings, more purchases. Even in peaceful places – restaurants, parks, trails, beaches, boats, sports fields –people are phoning and texting as if their sanity depended on it. Actually the reverse is true.

In this frenetic mental clutter, genuinely effective use of time is lost. We achieve better outcomes with less stress when we can chunk our task time, cordoning off dedicated time so that we can focus and think. Multitasking is not conducive to quality outcomes! Being overwhelmed by Busyness has us dashing between actions of varying priority and value, dealing distractedly with each, falling further behind and feeling increasingly panicked.

The hard lesson is that the task list can never be conquered by Efficiency or Pace. Only by Culling the Inessential and Doing-One-Thing-At-A-Time. Turn off the phone and the emails! Shut the door!

Busyness costs us a lot – inspiration, judgement, intimacy and calmness. E.g.

  • Archimedes’ Eureka and Newton’s Apple inspirations occurred when they were most relaxed
  • Judgement requires uncluttered unhurried contemplation
  • Facebook is no substitute for breaking bread with real friends
  • Calm = serene = well.

I don’t suggest you visit these sites, which would be a poor use of your time, but acknowledge them as sources: https://hbr.org/2014/06/why-we-humblebrag-about-being-busy/ http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/30/the-busy-trap/?_r=0

Life is too short to be BusyTrapped!