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On any given day, people all over are “crazy busy”. It seems a way of life for many of us and between work and home we feel like we couldn’t fit in one more thing. Suppose this, though- imagine your schedule/life is as you say- “crazy busy” and imagine your favorite public figure/sports figure/actor/politician, etc. calls and asks for 1/2 hr of your time. What would your response be? Would you shuffle commitments to free up 1/2 hour? Would you re-evaluate your priorities? Are you still crazy busy?

One of the biggest myths we buy into is that we don’t have enough time when the reality is our busyness is the result of how we prioritize, schedule and choose. So why do we give in to the crazy busy myth?

Being busy makes us feel important

We have somehow equated busy with worth and idleness with laziness and low achievement. When we have so much to do we elevate our status in our mind and give the impression that we are worth more. We think the busier we are the more interesting we’ll be. However, some of the most influential people have been known to take a break or schedule quiet time in their day. Bill Gates, for example, was known for taking a week off twice a year to think and reflect about the future of Microsoft. Similarly, Warren Buffet spends time, almost daily, to sit and think. Taking time off gives ourselves a chance to process, determine what is really important in our lives and set goals and priorities. Sometimes in our moments of quiet is when we really come up with our greatest ideas.

Being busy helps us avoid

Sometimes busy is a way of avoidance. If we’re so busy we don’t have to be with our thoughts or think of new ideas. We can sit in the status quo and not be responsible for changing and/or growth. If we’re “crazy busy”, we don’t have the time to take chances with the possibility of failure. We can act as if life is put upon us and therefore we can’t be responsible for not trying something new or fixing something that doesn’t work whether it’s a job, relationship or friendship. When we are so busy, we don’t have to look at our lives and assess them to see if we are lacking, acknowledge we are bored or think about going on a new path. In the end, being busy is like treading water- it’s active but it gets us nowhere.

We aren’t comfortable saying the truth

I had dinner with a friend and we were discussing an event to which we were both invited and I asked if she was attending. She said she wasn’t able because she was already too busy that week. I actually questioned her and said “or is it that you don’t want to go, so you aren’t prioritizing it?” Saying we are busy sounds nicer than “I have different priorities”, “I no longer find value in xyz”, or “I am overwhelmed”. Busy is a nice catchall that most people will understand so we don’t need an explanation. When we say we’re busy most people nod in understanding. Saying we’re busy is easier.

Busy assumes we have no choice

Unless you are the parent of a newborn, most of what you do in life is by choice. Whether signing children up for soccer, scouts or piano lessons while joining committees, training for triathlons, hosting book clubs or picking teams for fantasy leagues, we are making choices. I’m sure we all know someone who is on a committee (or the like) and complains about how much time it takes up. What I want to say is “but you joined it, no one forced you”. When we insinuate that our schedules are out of our control and we are forced to do all the things on our calendar, we can easily fall into victim mode which is not only false but exhausting. However, many continue to choose busyness because of the secondary gain it gives us. Whether it’s hearing verbal praise such as “you are a super woman/man. I don’t know how you do it all” or the dopamine hit we get when we check off our lists, it makes us feel good so we continue.

So, perhaps the question we need to ask ourselves is why do we think we are crazy busy? Are we using it as a crutch because we aren’t comfortable saying no? Do we have challenges with procrastination, prioritizing or scheduling? Are we worried about being seen as good parents or friends? Whatever the reason, I challenge you to really take a look at how you spend your time and accept the choices you make or take the time to do something different.