on busyness

Recently, I came across this post, called “The Busy Trap,” .  It was written about 2 years ago, but it perfectly sums up how I’ve been feeling lately. The author talks about busyness, the familiar plague where one’s job + social life becomes a time sink. It seems that everyone I know is busy… not just busy, but–as the author of the aforementioned post describes–crazy busy or super busy.

This excerpt really hit home:

Notice it isn’t generally people pulling back-to-back shifts in the I.C.U. or commuting by bus to three minimum-wage jobs  who tell you how busy they are; what those people are is not busy but tired. Exhausted. Dead on their feet. It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve “encouraged” their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.

Yup. I fully admit I’m guilty of this busyness… more often than not, in fact. But why? And for what?

I had an enlightening conversation with my (quite successful) husband about this. He really dislikes being busy and definitely thinks I overextend myself almost all the time. Since I’m pretty Type-A, I have always admired this quality of his; his ability to just relax. And he’s right. One of the reasons I was excited to move to Philly was so that I could easily visit NYC and DC, as well as meet some local movers and shakers in the city I have come to love and call my home. However, that’s a bit easier said than done. These bustling metropolises are full of incredibly talented and driven professionals… who are almost always, you guessed it: busy. If you want to network, or even simply meet a friend for a a quick bite to eat, you gotta hustle. It also helps to attend as many after hours & weekend events as you can in addition to working full-time during the day. For me, it is awfully exhausting.

I’m starting to think that my husband and I’s late night dreamy talks about moving to Colorado or Hawaii are sounding better and better each day, if only for the slower pace.

As I witness this phenomenon among my family, friends, and colleagues, I feel guilty about how much this idea of busy is affecting my own life and my own work. Am I really that busy? Or, am I just spending inordinate amounts of time trying to promote my work and keep up with everyone else?

I realize that this type of behavior has become overwhelmingly common in our society–and it is certainly not limited to people like myself who work mostly at home/online. I recall my husband’s first job when we moved to the city and how we now joke about his 80 hour work weeks and being ‘on call’ 24-7; at the time, it was not funny. And, at his office, it was the norm. Being busy sucks, and I’m on a mission to take back my time. Life is too short for the constant frenzy.

I’ve decided to take a step back from busy and re-prioritize my calender. I have two fabulous kids and a husband I adore. Not to mention, I do keep myself quite occupied with my own work and school. But, busy? Nah. I may still live in the land of “plenty to do”, but now I will make sure I also have plenty of time to myself. I’ll have more time for adventures with my kids, coffee with friends, and just reading a good book for no other reason than pleasure. My new plan hasn’t been in effect for long, yet I already feel much happier that I’ve adopted this stance. Less busy. More present. As I move into working on my next book, I’m very excited for the additional time I’ll have on hand, knowing full and well that my level of busy is all up to me.

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