Friday, 16 September 2016

When Being Pointlessly 'Busy' Becomes A Competition

Disclaimer: This post has been sitting in my drafts for many months now, waiting to be published (the irony that it hasn't been due to how busy I've been isn't lost on me) 

While browsing the internet, I came across this article titled 'Stop Being Too Busy and Take Control of Your Time Instead' and it's really given me food for thought; how many of us secretly overfill our diaries in order to try and appear as busy as possible? 
Sometimes it seems like people want to show that they have far fewer available windows in their social calendar than the next person - I for one am constantly seeing Facebook status updates along the lines of "X Y and Z booked! LOVE having loads to look forward to!!" or even: "between now and Christmas I officially have NO free weekends. Yay!". The thing is, I enjoy having lots to look forward to as much as the next person, I'm definitely someone who likes having plans (not many people genuinely LOVE never having a single thing to look forward to, do they?) but this quest for endless busyness comes at a price.

I'm guilty of overfilling my diary too, but it's usually because I'm a person who finds it very difficult to say no to invitations for fear of looking rude or causing offence, rather than because I absolutely adore being continuously busy. In fact, if I take too much on all that seems to happen is I get burned out and overtired, and feel like I'm stretching myself too thinly. I love seeing friends, but if I cram too much in all it does is mean I either can't be as fully present in the moment with them as I'd like to be, or I end up having no free 'windows' (hate that word) to see them and then have the guilt of being a bad friend added to the mix.

I do however, have friends who feel jealous and a bit resentful if for whatever reason they haven't got as much in their diaries as other people, and feel the need to start justifying exactly why they can't do X, Y and Z. Children, finances and general everyday life is a valid reason that in my opinion doesn't need to be justified. 
We're ALL busy, why make ourselves pointlessly busy to prove a point?

What really struck a chord with me in this article was the sentence: "being busy with things we don't want to do is not creating meaning. We love to kid ourselves that everything we're doing is urgent and important and necessary, we know secretly that it isn't." A recent survey in the New York Times showed 61% of working people did not have time do the things they wanted to do. 
I've lost count of the amount of times I've made an unnecessary detour on the way home from a stressful day at work out of obligation, and the amount of evenings I've spent in a pub I don't like, drinking a drink I don't want out of politeness, when really what I wanted was a cup of tea, my slippers and Netflix. But for fear of being considered 'boring' or 'selfish' I've sacrificed what I wanted to do in order to do something I felt I should do. I've even found myself lying and inventing other plans in order to justify why I'm not free on a particular day, so I don't have to go and fill my last remaining free time slot doing something I don't feel will benefit my life in any way.

In a nutshell: if you genuinely want to do something, then you'll find a way to do it, but if you're agreeing to something that you'll only find yourself frantically trying to think of an excuse to avoid a few weeks down the line, then you've made yourself pointlessly busy.

I've recently started reading The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*** (hasn't everyone?!) and this has just added fuel to my fire. I already genuinely relish and look forward with excitement to the nights where I have no plans, but I have to stop being afraid to actually tell people that. 
The bottom line is: there's no shame in not wanting to run yourself ragged in order to prove a point that you're socially successful. 

Beware the barrenness of a busy life
- Socrates.


  1. I really loved this post and I'm going to get that book because I give to many F's!! I love being not busy, I like planning a few things and being excited for those! I'm such a home girl so when I do plan to go out I can put everything into it!

    I am a sucker at saying YES when I want to say no! I have had CBT to help with it but it's not gone completely yet!

    Fix Me In Forty Five - A Beauty & Lifestyle Blog
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    1. Thanks Stacey, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I give far too many f's too and I'm always saying yes when I really want to say no! I love having my own time to look forward to!

      Lucy x

  2. The idea of having "no weekends free till christmas" isn't one that appeals to me to be honest I like a nice free weekend to just do my own thing and not have to worry about when I'll have time to myself.
    And though being busy is nice and all I don't see why people have to seem constantly busy, especially when they're not <3

    The Quirky Queer

    1. I'm totally the same as you, I love having my own time and just don't find never having a minute to myself appealing at all!

      Lucy x


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