The Busyness Epidemic


Do you often tell yourself or others that you've been too busy to do that thing you were meant to have gotten done? Or have you ever been forced to accept the apologies of others who just haven't had the time to commit to whatever it was that was expected of them? 

The epidemic of 'too busy' is widespread in our fast paced society. A new status symbol, being too busy has become an acceptable excuse almost across the board - to have an overstuffed plate is for many a new norm rather than an exception. And while not having enough time to live up to expectations or commitments may sometimes be the reality of one's schedule, it may not always be what is going on underneath the surface. 

The truth of the matter is, busyness is an easy disguise to hide behind when there's something we'd rather not face. Here's a thought: what if that thing that hasn't gotten done simply isn't a priority for us? What might that mean? 

What we prioritize speaks to what we value, and consequently, our values. Not prioritizing something, whether it's a small or a big thing, speaks volumes about where that thing is placed in our value system. This is where it can get slightly uncomfortable. It can be both difficult and painful to accept that we may simply not value something in the way that might be expected of us. 

Many of us hide behind busyness and fail to take responsibility for our values. If I haven't responded to a colleague's request that came in weeks ago - is it because I'm too busy or is the request perhaps simply not a priority for me? The school performance that I was too busy to attend because of work - what did that really say about how I value my children's big moment versus prestige in the work place? It's not not until we accept the honest answers to these questions and stop claiming busyness that we are able to take a hard look at what our values are and how these influence the bigger picture that is our lives. It might be that there are underlying ideas that need letting go of, such as the need to please the boss in search of validation, fear of failure or rejection, or other mental roadblocks that could do with being removed.

What if we were to simply exchange 'I've been to busy' for 'it hasn't been a priority, I'm sorry', or 'actually, there's something that doesn't feel quite right about this'. Think of all the unnecessary pain we could eliminate both from our own life and those of others. The truths that would come out in our relationships, our parenting, at home and at work could potentially change everything about the way in which we interact with each other. 

Often when we hide behind convenient and small enough lies it's because deep down, we think that the truth is too painful to handle. But if you have the courage to accept what's may be behind your busyness, you'll also have the courage to make the tweaks in your life that will set things right. Whatever that means for you. Whether it means saying no louder and more often, ending relationships or starting others, speaking your mind and simply being who you are, acceptance will lead you onto your true path. The truth shall set you free.

No matter how much we try, we can never fully hide our true intentions; not from others, and not from ourselves. Humans are highly intuitive beings, and even though things may not be spoken loudly, we can all sense when there's something else going on behind what's being spoken and done. Intuition is a gift given to us by evolution, and by accepting that the truth will catch up with us one way or another, we can start owning up to our values and start living a life that is truly aligned with who we are and what we believe in. And that is an investment worth making.

Want to manage your time better? Have a listen to Laura Vanderkam's TED-talk on prioritizing what's important to you and how to manage your time accordingly.