We live in a world where the word busy has come not only to be common everyday language but more than this, a word that we have come to celebrate.
How many times do you hear friends, family, colleagues and clients talk about how busy they are as though this is something we should be impressed by. It is relentlessly and pervasively present in our general day-to-day chit-chat, whether it be in a social setting or professional. There's a famous Monty Python sketch wherein when asked to introduce himself with his name the Merchant Banker replies: "I forget my name for the moment but I am a Merchant Banker". How many of us can resonate, "I forget my name but I am very busy" or "Hi, I'm Busy"?
Has it simply become something we say? Is it a status thing? Is it because of our known digital addiction where we are struggling to get present? Is it a lack of clarity or intention? Is it because we’re working longer hours and more than ever before? Or are we holding ourselves to new unattainable standards where we are expected to be all things to all people – never saying no?
It seems this ‘busyness’ or “perennial time-scarcity problem” impacts individuals at all levels in all types of industries and organisations. And yet there seems to be a more acute issue facing today’s leaders and entrepreneurs and, in particular, working parents. I'm interested in the impact this persistent busyness is having on these leaders' teams, on their businesses ability to succeed and, closer to home, on their relationships with partners and children. What are we saying when we say we're constantly busy?
"If we would only give, just once, the same amount of reflection to what we want to get out of life that we give the question of what to do with a two week vacation, we would be startled at our false standards and the aimless procession of our busy days." Dorothy Fisher
Some might say, it’s just a word, it’s just a way to articulate a feeling. But I would attest that the very use of this language may have an influence over the way we think or the actions we take. If we believe that being busy is something we should be proud of or, worse, what is expected, we will continue to load our days, our diaries and ultimately our lives with stuff that keeps us busy. Is this really what we want? Is this really what is best for our world? For our society? For our children? Is this the vision you have for your life?
My question is, what might possible for you if you weren’t busy? If you had focus? If you had intention? If you allowed yourself to breathe a little more?
Do it now, breathe… Slow down... focus… and think:
- What matters the most to me? What do I truly care about?
- What dreams do I have for my life? What is my purpose? What do I hope my legacy to be?
- What is serving this today and where should I continue to focus?
- What is just noise? Where am I living someone else’s life?
My ardent hope is that we ban the prolific use of the word busy – my belief is it is not serving us as individuals, as companies and as societies. Let's take it out of our vernacular and find other ways to describe our lives. Let’s take away the prestige in busyness and instead focus it on having clarity, on being purposeful and on consciously managing our time. Let's get back on the front foot and take back control of our lives. Let's use our time productively with intent always focused on spending it on matters most for us as individuals, families, teams and orgnaisations.
It might seem radical, but I assure you it's not as difficult as it sounds. Why not carve some time out of your busy day to try it today and see what changes (if any) it creates for you? Who's with me?