Jan 15, 2010

3 Steps to Stop Being "Busy"

Life's too short and too rich to be busy. So I quit being "busy" simply by dropping the word from my vocabulary.

I did used to be busy, too busy, overloaded - these were the words that would confront you if you asked how I was. One day I realized just how often I complained to other people about how I had too much to do. That's what they knew of me, that was my defining characteristic. Not the most romantic epitaph: "Here lies Rick - gosh he was busy!"

My first step was, therefore, a very superficial but significant one. I simply stopped telling people about how busy I was. That freed up space to tell them about what I was engaged in, made me a much more enjoyable person to talk with. Probably helped our social life too - why on earth would anyone invite us over to dinner knowing that we were already too busy?

Step two was to take the power away from the word "busy." It's just an adjective, not a noun. It's an interpretation, an internal label that we can control, not a state of affairs buzzing around us like a swarm of To-Do lists. I started using positive words like "full" or "energized" or "active," anything to remind myself that I'm involved in a lot of things that bring Joy and meaning to my life.

Step three came logically from step two - make sure the things we're doing are indeed making us happy, feeding us and the world. All commitments and activities are measured by this criterion; any that don't fit should be dropped. As long as the ways we invest our time and energy fit this definition, they're not "busy" things getting in the way of what we want to do; they are what we want to do, they're the stuff of life.

Magazine articles usually start and end with the commandment to reduce your commitments, pare down activities to be less busy. That just never works - the space fills up again. I am not a person who's happy doing nothing. I'm just as active as a stay-at-home dad/farmer as I ever was as a city-dwelling Executive Director. I just work at being mindful day by day, minute by minute, of how my energies tie into my vision and dreams.

I used to be busy. These days there's just not enough time to be "busy" - there's way too much I want to do.

Thanks to The Art of Non-Conformity blog entry on busy-ness for inspiring this reflection

1 comment:

  1. Truly the word "busy" is way overused. We are often told how "busy" we must be and are left thinking "are we?" We're just doing what makes us happy and would have it no other way ... if you want to ask us for dinner - we can be there!!!