in life

Get Busy Living

Hands up if when someone asks you how you’re doing you reply with, “Busy”. 

I bet every single hand is raised right now.

We wear “busy” as if it is a badge of honor. We talk about “busy” as though it’s something to be proud of. We let “busy” fill the void. We allow “busy” to get in the way of living.

Somewhere along the way, we start believing that if we’re not busy, and I mean, VERY busy, that something is wrong. We feel guilt when we’re not getting things done. We look at those around us who are doing big things and fall into a state of mind that tells us we can’t possibly keep up, but that if we  just stay busy, if we keep hustling, we’re doing something right.

Without thinking, we let busy get in the way of some of the best things in life.

When you’re busy, you miss out on amazing opportunities. Because there’s no time for creative thought. No time for trying new things. No time for taking chances and coming up with brilliant ideas. Busy clutters our mind from thinking clearly and objectively about what we really want and probably should be doing.

When you’re busy, you can pretty much say so long to spontaneity. There’s no wiggle room. There’s barely room to breathe, much less room to really capture what the moments in front of us have to offer.

When you’re busy, it wains our your ability to form strong relationships. To sustain bonds. To celebrate. To build new connections. Whether it’s our family, friends, or clients, when we’re occupying all of our time with getting “stuff” done, we’re not making room to let anyone in.

So here’s to scheduling time to not be busy. To grabbing beers with friends. Going on a long run. Playing Xbox for a few hours without feeling guilty. Cooking dinner with your spouse. Writing. Playing. Learning. Loving. Living.

And here’s to taking my own advice to heart. Because a life constantly filled with “busy” isn’t really being lived.

(Photo credit)

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  1. Great post, Matt!  It’s true – busy leaves room for little else in our lives.  I have a friend that once told me while other think that they thrive when their life is busy, she aspires to a FULL life instead.  I’m with her – and with you too.  

  2. There’s a reason the term ‘Busy Fools’ was coined dude ;) 

    I like Alli’s suggestion around full.  I used to use productive instead of busy but I’m gonna switch to full now. 

    Trouble is – most companies still measure their employees by hours input not by useful stuff done. So in your typical company, busy is worn as a badge of honour. Work expands to fill the time available. It’s totes lame, as my nine year old daughter Keira would say. 

    • I’m learning this myself as Proof continues to grow and I learn how to be a better manager. It’s not at all about the hours you put in, but rather, you’re output. The results. Making the best use of your time, not simply using it. 

  3. Good stuff Matt. I’ve been making time every single day just to chat with people on Skype. It’s been one of the best things I’ve done for the growth of blogcastFM. I’m going to be in NYC in a few days and I’ll be making plenty of time to just hang out with people and get to know them., 

    • Conversations breed ideas. Ideas breed products. Products breed sales. From a business standpoint, it’s silly NOT to make time for letting people in. My best work has come from the result of engaging with other people. 

      And, have a blast in NYC. I *may* be coming up next week – still to be determined – but If I’m there, we’ll carve out some time to grab drinks.

  4. When people say they are busy, it makes me cringe. It’s one of my pet peeves. And did you know most people aren’t actually that busy? They just think they are, but really they just putz around. You have the power to decide how you spend your time. 

    • I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t guilty of dropping the “busy” line far too often. I need to remove it from my vocabulary. I am busy, still what I would consider “too” busy – but I’m working on it, and I think somewhere in the 12-step program to not being a workaholic, eliminating “busy” from your vocabulary, especially as a word to define your life, has to be in there somewhere.

      PS, I love the redesign of your site. Simple. Clean. Purposeful. Intentional. I dig it – especially as someone who’s constantly trying to improve what I’m doing in my neck of the woods. Well done. 

  5. Being “busy” is definitely seen as some sort of status symbol. But, I agree that when we’re busy all of the time, we’re missing out on a lot of the important things. It’s important to realize what is making us so busy and figure out of those are the things we really want to be spending our precious moments doing.

  6. Great post, Matt, and to the point, as always.  It’s amazing how that one little word “busy” can make people feel more important than anything or anybody else and ruin a lot of things in one’s life that are truly of value – friendships, families, etc.  People need reminders like your post to regain focus on what really matters.  Thanks!  

  7. Great post! And very true. I hate when people are too busy to take time out and do fun things. Since being laid off from the *other* Proof a couple of years ago, I’ve made a point of being busy. But busy doing fun stuff for me, and not just busy for work. That commitment to “funtimejoy” has changed my outlook and my attitude. :-)

  8. Perfect timing for this post, Matt. I just had two separate people tell me to “quit working so much so we can hang out” just today. I need to make sure I’m not missing out on these valuable interactions, especially considering I live in Boulder, CO where there’s so much fun to be had! On that note, time to grab a beer and watch baseball with a buddy…

  9. Love this. I think it’s one of life’s lessons and am trying to learn more of them every day. I like that you are not focusing on “productivity” of time, but building relationships and space for dreams.

  10. I like that and sounds great….but what happend when your money to get your kids educated depends directly on you busy, when your new house depends on your busy…?

    • Of course. That’s a great point. We’re all working to pay the bills and support ourselves and our families – but even then, it’s important to make the best use of our time actually being “busy” so we can have time doing the things and spending time with the people that matter most.

  11. Preach it! :) You know, the other day, I told someone that “busy” is the new “fine”. It’s what everyone says now regardless if it’s true or not. I know I need to say it less too.

    And, there’s the other problem you mentioned….too much focus on the hours we put in, instead of looking at what we put into those hours. Cliche, I know. But, it’s true. And, like you mentioned, there’s WAAAY more to life than working all the time. Sometimes, taking time off and forcing yourself to work less can make you more productive in the hours you are working. I know this is something I’m really working on. It’s a tough balance for sure.

    • Yep. And you hit the nail on the head – it’s not about the number of hours, but how you’re using those hours to produce your best work. I know, if I really work at it, I can get just as much done in a focused couple hours of work than I can get done while being distracted throughout the day. Safe to say the same could be said for most of us. Simply filling our time with “stuff” for the sake of being “busy” is no way to live!

  12. Great post! I definitely came to this realization after I burnt myself out completely last year, and did some travelling to reset. I had no idea the things I was missing out on because I was working every day, evening and weekend. We are surrounded by amazing opportunities that we often don’t even see because we get so caught up in the grind. Spontaneity is so good for the soul… :)

    • Agreed 100%, Marie – and sometimes it takes really getting away to understand that if you don’t answer an email at midnight or take on a project before the sunrises, the word won’t come crumbling down. Especially for entrepreneurs, it’s so important for us to set realistic expectations – and stick to them. Just because we CAN do something right now, doesn’t mean we always should. Cheers!

  13. Love this post, Matt! I always feel the need to keep myself busy, or should I say the guilt of not being “busy enough.” But you’re absolutely right in what you say! I especially agree w/the part about making and maintaining strong relationships. 

  14. CONGRATS!!! I did the same exact thing with my photo business, and aluhgtoh I do not use my studio a ton for shoots (only maternity, or newborn, or weather related) it’s SO great to have it, and to be able to store all my stuff there, and to have a space to show my customers my products, and not have my kids running around and the fact that you dont have to clean your house before you customers come is AMAZING Good Luck, you will do great!!!! THANK YOU!!!!

  15. Hey Matt, new fan here. :-)

    I remember when I used to use “being busy” as an excuse to not be bothered by people (sometimes still do!) but then I actually became way too busy to find my creative self again.

    Then I knew something had to change; something had to give…Being busy just for busy sake was getting me nowhere. I didn’t want to be known as the “chick who’s always busy” as my dad says, especially doing busy work without the time for creation which is what I LOVE to do. Love the article and sharing it so others can get in on this. :-)