This topic has been on my mind for quite some time, but I continued to bite my tongue. Then a fellow business owner shared an article on LinkedIn that hit home and encouraged me (OK, pushed me) to throw in my two cents on the subject.
Please stop telling me you’re busy. Over the phone, on Facebook messenger, via text. Via sky writing, a telegram and even ‘snail mail.’ Seriously, stop.
We’re all busy, someway or somehow. Yes, you’re probably handling more at work than ever with slow hiring levels and a sluggishly growing economy. Maybe you own your own business, so you’re never really ‘off the clock.’ Perhaps you have children with a myriad of activities or aging parents that you proudly take care of. We get it. You have a lot on your plate.
So does everyone else. When did it become so cool to be busy? To run from one commitment to the next only to ‘make an appearance’ at a function in between? We’re still trying to keep up with the Joneses, only this time it’s with commitments and over-scheduling instead of houses and cars.
“To assume that being ‘busy’ (at this point it has totally lost its meaning) is cool, or brag-worthy, or tweetable, is ridiculous.” –Meredith Fineman
Maybe you’re a workaholic in your current situation due to necessity. Your boss requires you to be on call or feels the need to contact you at all hours with “emergencies” that are not emergencies in anyone else’s world (i.e. a routine assignment or her second grader’s extra credit project). That’s definitely a problem in corporate America, as Jennifer J. Deal has so eloquently touched on in Welcome to the 72-Hour Work Week (an excellent read) in the Harvard Business Review. If you’re in one of these situations, I hope you can eventually move on or have a serious heart-to-heart with your boss. I believe in work ethic as much as anyone, but no one really wants workaholic duly noted at his eulogy.
“What does bother [executives, managers and professionals] is when companies use 24-7 connectedness to compensate for organizational inefficiencies and when it significantly undermines their personal lives, productivity, creativity, and ability to think strategically.” –Jennifer J. Deal
Why should you stop being so busy? Filling in every single second of your ridiculously, overfilled schedule?
- It’s killing your mojo. Human beings thrive on relationships, even introverts like me. When you’re so busy that you don’t have time for anyone, your relationships — business and personal — suffer.
- It makes you look bad. Seriously, other people’s perception of you is that you’re really bad at time management or you just don’t care (about your work, a friend, etc.). Do you want to work or socialize with someone who has this image?
- You’re pissing people off. When you go on and on telling people how busy you are, you’re inferring that your time is more valuable than theirs. Or that they’re just sitting around watching soap operas and drinking wine. Neither tend to go over well.
Please understand that I am NOT trying to say that your workload isn’t enormous, or you don’t have hundreds of responsibilities. I’m just asking you to take a step back, take a deep breath and look at the big picture. It’s said that your life flashes before your eyes right before you die. What will you remember?
What do you think?
Do we glorify busy? Is it ‘cool’ today to be a workaholic? Do we try to outdo each other with how busy we are?
Is this attitude different in different cultures?
I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts! Thank you in advance for taking the time.
Stop the glorification of busy photo courtesy of Campari & Sofa
Meredith Fineman quoted from her article, Please Stop Complaining How Busy You Are
Jennifer J. Deal quoted from her article, Welcome to the 72-Hour Work Week
Skydiving photo from personal collection (Yes, that’s me!)
3 thoughts on “Please stop telling me you’re busy.”
Love this post! When I’ve worked in an office in the past, people literally seemed to stay late in work just for the sake of it! All I kept thinking was, manage your time better or remember you only get paid for so many hours in a day!
There does seem to be a pride factor in racking up a large number of hours worked in Corporate America (or maybe it’s just a US thing). I agree with you; oftentimes you’ll see these people chatting in the hallways, spending large amounts of time browsing the Web, etc. Plus, it’s been shown that the more hours you work, the less productive you actually are. Thanks for chiming in!