“Slammed,” “buried,” “swamped,” and “overloaded.” No, I’m not describing a snowstorm hitting an Alaskan town. These are just a few synonyms for “busy” I’ve heard over the past semester as people swap scheduling woes. But these exchanges are far from just sharing a passing complaint. Now, running on four hours of sleep (if I’m lucky) and having a planner so decked out with appointments it’s barely legible, is a point of pride.
These “who’s busier?” throw downs aren’t a conversation. It’s an opportunity to one-up your fellow student, friend, or co-worker by showing them your time is more important, wanted, and needed. But the humble-brag you’re about to share on how you’re managing not just a plate-full of assignments and activities, but a freaking six course meal? Take a moment and sit at the table to reevaluate what you’re trying to accomplish.
The simple fact is everyone is busy. Maybe their manner of busy-ness differs from yours, but it is no less important. As a society, let’s stop the notion a schedule mimicking that of a campaigning presidential candidate equals success.
“To assume that being ‘busy’ (at this point it has totally lost its meaning) is cool, or brag-worthy, or tweetable, is ridiculous. By lobbing these brags, endlessly puffing our shoulders about how ‘up to my neck’ we are, we’re missing out on important connections with family and friends, as well as personal time.
In addition to having entire conversations about how busy we are, we fail to share feelings with friends and family, ask about important matters, and realize that the ‘busy’ is something that can be put on hold for a little while.”
-Meredith Fineman, “Please stop complaining about how busy your are” Harvard Business Review
With Americans rating their work more highly than their personal health, it’s not surprising to hear the World Health Organization has found America to be the most anxious nation, with nearly one third of Americans suffering from anxiety in their lifetimes. It only adds a new level of competition when we are all trying to win the gold medal for “Busy Bee.”
Let’s change the name of the game. Instead of working hard, let’s work smart.
Constrain time spent on, well, time wasters (I’m looking at you Facebook and Twitter). Cut unnecessary meetings or projects. If you realize you’re just in the chess club for a vanity boost, check mate and bust out. Acknowledge attempting to “out-misery” someone isn’t a healthy use of time or energy.
Perhaps instead of “buried,” “swamped,” and “overloaded,” your planner will begin to feel “productive,” “dynamic,” and “engaged.”