When I was in college, I was glued to my calendar. I was obsessed with filling all of the white spaces with activities and meetings, freakishly afraid of having too much free time. It wasn't until several semesters of this unhealthy pattern that I began to realize that I over-glorified busyness. I found significance and purpose in back-to-back meetings, double booked calendars (best feeling ever), and falling asleep to exhaustion. This lifestyle gave me a false sense of value.
I also learned that I wasn't alone.
Recently, Adweek came out with an article dedicated to this topic, wonderfully putting language to these thoughts I wrestled with in college. In fact, Adweek surveyed that not only did people glorify busyness, but over 40% of people even overstated how busy they were.
"Our issue with time seems to be not so much that we have too little of it, but that we now equate being busy with leading a life of significance," the report notes. "And we don't want to be relegated to the sidelines. In an essay in The New York Times, writer Tim Kreider observed, 'Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.'"
Is it just me or is this fascinating?! Like when did coffee become a socially acceptable addiction and FOMO a real word? And why does it so accurately describe how I often feel?
We have become a generation that idolizes busyness and are enslaved to the hustler identity. It's not that dreaming big or working hard is bad, but we have somehow tied success to busyness. We have traded in balance and self-care for productivity and efficiency?
What happened to listening to our bodies and giving it adequate rest and nourishment? Why do we settle with running off caffeine? What happened to creating margin in life for meditation, bubble baths, and calling our parents? Are we really on this earth to be as efficient as possible? Is true satisfaction found in busyness? Are we doing anything well when we spread ourselves thin?
I need to slow down my rhythm — which is challenging. It's easier for me to run off minimal sleep than it is to be still. It's hard to pray or read my bible without reaching for my phone. My brain doesn't operate on stillness anymore, which means I need to re-train my brain moment by moment.
So I'm going to try to re-train my brain and exercise stillness, smallness, presence. I will learn to say no to commitments even if that means it will disappoint people. I will intentionally block time on my calendar for alone time. I will give grace when I can't finish everything on my to-do list. I will learn to confidently share when I have zero plans. I will take more walks and leave my phone at home — even if that means missing out on an Instagram opp. Is that sad? Probably. But that's currently where I am. You gotta start somewhere.
@@"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." Robert Brault@@
I want to learn to work smarter, not harder — personally that means creating a lifestyle that is sustainable, enjoyable, and life-giving avoiding burnout and anxiety. It's a mindset + lifestyle shift which will take time but I think the pay-off will be worth it. There is more to life than busyness and I want to experience first-hand what that looks like. I'm sure no expert on this topic so I would love to hear your thoughts below!
Do you find yourself measuring success and value in your busyness? How do you practice slowing down and being present? Where in your life can you create margin to breathe?