“Busy” has become a word packed with meaning in social circumstances, it has become as common a response as ‘fine’ to the question ‘How are you?’. Habitual it might be but are you telling people what you really want to when you use this word? And is it really helpful to be telling yourself you are ‘busy’?
Human beings spend time and energy on things they, at some level, believe are important. That doesn’t mean you like everything you do. If you believe making other people happy is important, you will focus your time and energy on activities that meet that goal. Also, it may sound obvious but when you say ‘yes’ to anything, you are saying ‘no’ to other things as you have no space for them – is that what you want? What are you missing out on? We have more labour saving devices than ever before, yet seem to be busier than ever – why is that? It has more to do with our perspective and focus of attention than reality. Here are some of the main issues with being ‘busy’ and what you can do to bring a bit more rhythm into your life.
1) You’re giving other people (and your own mind) a negative message about yourself
As Jane Austen said “Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.” Busy can be a positive thing, if you are busy doing the things you want to do with your life. Be careful though of using it as a standard response because when you describe yourself as busy, you are potentially communicating to yourself and other people one or more of the following:
- I’m overloaded
- I’m not sure I can cope
- I have no space
- I’m bad at managing time
- I’m disorganised
- I feel a bit out of control.
Any of these will create an unhelpful feeling inside you around how you spend your time. It can programme your mind, if repeated, into believing you don’t have space for anything else, even the good things. Someone else could be left with an impression you had not intended. If someone is too busy it is not a badge of honour, it is an indication that they are finding it hard to prioritise and manage their life.
2) You’re not doing the things you want to do
Being busy is only positive if you are, in the main, doing things you want to do. Make sure you are filling your time with fulfilling and rewarding activities you enjoy rather than chores or things you hope other people will be impressed by. We all need to do necessary things to keep life running smoothly but these can take over as habits – unless you are very messy it’s unlikely you need to hoover three times a week! There is no right and wrong here – do an audit on how you are filling your time and ask yourself – is this right for me?
3) We all need time to recharge
To keep healthy and avoid stress building up, most people need to take a 15 minute break every 90 minutes or so, if not we risk stress hormones building up in our bodies, making us frazzled and potentially impacting your health. Plan to take regular breaks during the day, go for a little walk, read a bit and take time to eat lunch. The little breaks all add up to a much more positive experience of life and the little rests actually make you more productive as your brain gets a recharge.
So next time you are tempted to answer a question with ‘I’m so busy’ consider whether there is a better, more accurate way of describing your situation. Instead you could be ’enjoying getting involved with something’ or ‘making some time for the garden at the moment.’ As well as being much more interesting responses, they are also much healthier.
Karen Meagre is a co-author of Time Mastery – a book on time management.
By Karen Meagre