“How’s it going, Kristen?
“Fine thanks. Busy though!”
“Oh me too. Not enough hours in the day!”
We’ve all had similar conversations–the no rest for the weary saga. I’m probably the poster child for busy; I eat lunch in my classroom , trying to multitask on school work to desperately avoid bringing home more items to add to my one of eighty-five to do lists– for once I enter my abode, the pernicious and vast “lists” attack me at the front door like nefarious demons from the chore ridden underworld–laundry, dishes, dog walking, dog hair, dog treats (and I don’t mean milk bones), homework help, organizing schedules, booking appointments, paying bills, carpooling…it never ends. And for those wondering why the two teens that reside in our home aren’t helping, well they do, but they’re teens, so enough said.
All I hear on a daily basis from neighbors, colleagues, students, family members and friends is how busy they are. Busyness does not discriminate; it crosses all age groups, races and genders. Everyone is busy–in America it’s as obsequious as Starbucks. And speaking of drive thrus, for that matter, the concept of a drive thru only reinforces the acceptance of busyness. Are our minutes really that booked up that we can’t even get out of our vehicles to grab a cup of coffee? Coffee is to be savored as an almost religious experience, not guzzled and scolding your lap on the race to God knows where.
So I’m currently reflecting on the philosophy of “busy” and the current state of “busyness” in my overflowing filing-cabinet-of-a-mind. The result: I HATE IT. I hate everything about it. “Busy” is a dark force robbing all of us of what matters most. It is the most vulgar four letter word that exists.
Not to be misunderstood– I love my life and I love being busy with the things I’m passionate about and enjoy– being a mom, a teacher, a tutor and currently a blogger–these I approach with zeal. The busy I’m talking about are the other things I keep adding to my list that really don’t need to exist. Why do I create them, then? Do I need to appear hard working and ambitious to the outside world? Do I care that much what other people think? Do I view the opposite of busyness as laziness? Am I trying to distract myself from myself or deeper subconscious issues? Why do we feel busy establishes a certain respect? Why do we feel disconcerted recharging our batteries? Why is kicking back overtaken by feelings of guilt?
When we claim we are “busy” we need to read between the metaphorical to-do list lines. What are we really seeking: admiration? accomplishment? importance? value? esteem? Why do other cultures of the world gain such accolades by demonstrating balance in their lives? Why do they honor the act of doing nothing. In fact, in many countries, hectic, busy people are actually looked down upon.
If there’s one place we should be able to escape the wrath of busyness it should be on vacation, right? Well, upon reflection I’m failing in this aspect as well; While I’m currently practicing living in the moment and have greatly improved on mindfulness over the past few years, I am still constantly checking texts and emails, placing orders online for things I’ll need when I return home, focusing on taking pictures and gathering ideas for this blog, and sadly making future to do lists. This is the antithesis of vacation!
So after much introspection, here are eight things that I am concretely going to do about this:
- Limit myself to one To Do list per day.
- Limit tech–set one hour each evening for checking emails and social media.
- Enjoy a glass of wine with a friend without complaining about anything–make conversation rich and meaningful.
- Watch a show with my kids without my laptop or phone anywhere nearby.
- Vow to eat lunch in the teacher’s lounge 3 times a week next school year.
- Put in an electric dog fence
- Plan at least one vacation a year that focuses solely around relaxation–I’m thinking Bali is in the near future.
- Just say “Hell No” –well I’ll be a bit more polite about it. So when people ask me how I’m doing, my answer will hopefully be, “Fine thanks…pleasantly relaxed…and you?”
What are your beliefs about busyness? Are you able to live a stree-free life? If so, how have you created this for yourself?