“Hi, (your name)! How are you?”
Does this sound familiar? Would you say that your life is absolutely flooded with things you have to do? Do you spend your days hurrying from task to task and appointment to appointment without ever really getting your to-do list done?
If so, how does that make you feel? Stressed? Tired? Anxious? Overwhelmed? Probably yes to all of those, but isn’t there a tiny part of you that also feels a little bit proud? From time to time, we’re all guilty of “bragplaining” (bragging while complaining) about how busy our lives are, and it’s easy to see why. In today’s society, being busy is a symbol of accomplishment, success, and importance. It’s become a kind of competition, the rules of which are not stated, but nevertheless, are universally understood. The assumption is that if you aren’t always busy then you must not have that much going on, that perhaps you’re missing out on life. In fact, this is a lie and the exact opposite is true.
There is a difference between being busy and getting things done.
The truth is that multitasking is a myth and a busy brain functions at a diminished capacity. When we stretch our energy and attention across so many things over the course of a day, it can’t help but wear thin. We give everything we do the barest amount of attention, so we don’t do anything truly well. As a result, our productivity and performance across all tasks are lower than they could be. Our work suffers, but more importantly, so do our relationships. How often do you find yourself thinking about something else completely right while someone is talking to you? When is the last time you turned your attention fully toward your child or spouse? Busy-ness diminishes our experience of life on the whole: when we don’t pause to look around and take in what’s happening right here and now, we never truly engage; we are hurried observers rather than active participants in our own lives.
The good news is that something can be done about this. We have more control over our daily lives than we think we do. For the next week, I ask you to just observe yourself. Notice what the course of your days are like, how you feel, how you interact with others. Note how often you feel rushed, anxious, impatient. See whether you ever slow down and concentrate on just one thing, right in that moment.
Then check back here next week for tips on how you can start to change some of those habits and escape the cult of busy.