I think, when you meet as many new people as I do in any given day, you begin to pay close attention to conversational trends. Over the last few months (years, really) I have backed away from asking the famous question, “How are you?” It inevitably leads to an eyeroll and a quick thought of, “Why did I even ask?” Everyone’s “fine,” “good,” “great,” and “busy.” Ohhh — everyone is so busy.
Old people are busy. Young people are busy. The self-employed, over-employed, underemployed, and even the unemployed are busy. The rich are busy. The poor are busy. White people, black people, hispanic, latino; all consumed with stress-filled and frustrated, self-reported and -diagnosed stages of busyness.
As a recovering self-diagnosed workaholic myself, I have finally drilled into my own head that being busy doesn’t exactly equate the execution of significant or value-adding activities. And now I am going to drill it into your head as well. Together we need to stop filling our time with things that don’t carry worth or meaning or even remotely spark joy. That’s as easily fixed as better planning and daily self-reflection. The best tip I have ever heard for conquering this was to “plan your week, not your days.” Treat each week as a 16 hour day; plan from sun-up (Monday) to sunset (Friday).
“Exhaustion is not a status symbol, be it physical or emotional or otherwise. It takes strength and courage to take back your life, claim your time, and realize the profound value in rest and play.”
Is it just me or do people feel that their physical, emotional, and sometimes psychological unavailability gives them bragging rights? Busyness is not a badge to be worn with honor. I think it’s important, and a personal objective, to individually reverse and erase that dangerous social phenomenon – by fighting back against the urge to preach of just how busy we are, and why. After all, exhaustion is not a status symbol. It takes strength and courage to take stock in your life, claim your time, and realize the profound value in rest and play. Yes, rest and play. Remember those?
Chronic busyness is breed in the workplace. Some workplaces not only perpetuate a workaholic culture but praise – and even require (!!) it. Forget the detrimental health factor. It’s simply not sustainable! More often than not, the pressure to always feel (or present a sense of busyness) leads to a revolving door of soon-to-be-exhausted talent. Talent that an industry may never revive. There are more than a handful of instances where I’d find myself in a residency with a client thinking, “this just can’t go on,” and I don’t think I go a day without hearing another person saying the same exact thing – either online or in person.
Fact: More and more companies (read: millennial companies) are offering unlimited vacation time. It’s true. (Hello Netflix and of course a majority of my clients.) The concept doesn’t just sound appealing and help to attract and retain the most qualified talent, it avoids a workaholic company culture while still demanding high productivity and results from their team. It places accountability entirely in the individuals hands.
cure to chronic busyness – because let’s be real, that’s why you’re still here – is, in my opinion, conscious sillness over idling. As a very anxious, high-energy person I used to find it very hard to navigate my daily (hell, even weekly) calendars. Prioritization was the issue. I would fill my time with things (all of the things) to just keep myself busy and get myself to that coveted level of exhaustion. It sounds ridiculous, right? (Hello, check yourself!) And that’s exactly what I did, I checked myself.
Mindfulness is a daily practice for me and – since I am no expert or master of it just yet – it’s a daily learning process too. Meditation time, no matter how short my mind wants it to be, are required twice a day. Yoga is a required 4x per-week. (Yes, both are built into my schedule and productivity trackers.) And, they’re never sacrificed for any reason – ever. Now, instead of leaning into the urge to busy myself in those far and few between moments of boredom, I always ask myself: What do I want this hour to do for me? What *can* this hour do for me? If nothing (because the next hour is too insane and approaching at rapid speed, than the hour at hand does nothing. We sit. Mindfully.)
Gone are the days of pointless meetings, senseless scrolling, and dead-end digital conversations. Now, I’m a meal-prepping, yoga-doing, meditation-crazed, info-maniac obsessed with deflating my calendar and inflating my quality of life. Quality over quantity, after all.