I’ve talked previously about how we proudly proclaim that we’re “busy”. That “busy” is used as a form of validation. That “busy” gets in the way of living.

Like you, when someone asks how I’m doing, often the first thing to come out of my mouth is, “Busy. But, good busy”.

Because of course, being busy is better than not being busy, right? Maybe not.

A recent article in Inc Magazine talked about 9 Keys to Business and Career Success. The first? Time. In that, time isn’t something that must be occupied with busy. And that we often slip into the mentality that we need to simply fill our time for the sake of filling it, rather than focusing on being efficient and productive – then using our free time to create, play, and try new things. To quote:

“Deadlines and time frames establish parameters, but typically not in a good way. The average person who is given two weeks to complete a task will instinctively adjust his effort so it actually takes two weeks.

Forget deadlines, at least as a way to manage your activity. Tasks should only take as long as they need to take. Do everything as quickly and effectively as you can. Then use your “free” time to get other things done just as quickly and effectively.

Average people allow time to impose its will on them; remarkable people impose their will on their time.”

Take note: There’s nothing noble about being busy. About filling your time with “stuff”.

Instead of worrying about staying busy, plan and work toward NOT being busy. Allow yourself some space to breathe. Some space for opportunity. Some space for your brilliant ideas to come to life.

Because those things, my friends, only happen outside of “busy”.

(Photo credit)

Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. I think back to something Zig Ziglar said. Many people confuse activity with accomplishment.

    Reply
    • Well said, Srini. I’m as guilty of this as the next guy. I think we all are – as it’s part of the way we’ve been brought up. I’m actively working on not justifying my “success” on the number of hours I spend “on the clock”.

      Reply
  2. “Busy” is the new “fine.” It’s how we respond to everything. It’s how we think we should be. I think that’s why we’re so often tricked into the number of hours we put in. We wear it like a badge of honor, when it’s more about how much we accomplished. There’s been a lot of talk about all of this lately – or at least I’m noticing it more. Did you see the NY Times piece from a few weeks back (“The Busy Trap”)? If not, I’ll find it and send. It talks about a lot of this.

    Reply
  3. The same rule applies to time as to a woman’s purse: the larger the purse, the more stuff the woman will cram into it. Even though she could get away with carrying only one tenth of all that crap, she fills up the available space BECAUSE IT’s THERE.

    We do the same thing with our time. The more time we have, the more time we take to get things done. We fill it up our days because they are there. This is such a tragedy because time that’s left open is full of so many possibilities.

    I’m always working to free up time – untangle it from the daily grind. Wonderful thoughts do not flourish in the daily grind. They need open skies and long tracts of unscheduled hours. That’s what I’m after. ;)

    Reply
    • I wanted to step in here since Matt is dreadfully unqualified to respond with dignity about the woes of carrying a purse.
      I found out the same thing when I switched! Now I don’t even carry one. If it doesn’t fit in my pockets, it’s not coming with me. Everything in there wasn’t so essential after all.
      Unfortunately unlike you, I’m always working to work some more. I feel like if I’m not making use of every second of the day, then I’m wasting it.

      But like the Merovingian says in the Matrix: “Who has time? Who has time? But then if we do not ever take time, how can we ever have time?”

      I’ll try harder.

      Reply
  4. Thank you for this. I just want you to know that I love reading your posts. I tried to follow on blogspot, but it doesn’t seem to work. Thank you for this. I am reading!

    Reply
  5. Ever since I changed jobs, BUSY has become my new trend word. I love being busy instead of wondering how to fill my time. But maybe I have been looking at it the wrong way… I’m a person who defines herself with her working life and real life keeps mixing with it. Your post made me think about maybe not having the need to be busy all the time.

    Reply

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About Matt Cheuvront

I empower folks to do the work they want to do and live the life they want to live. Connect on Twitter or check out the work I'm doing at Proof.

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