When I was a young adult, I used to start so many letters and conversations with “How are you? I’ve been so busy.” Since then, I have come to understand that busy isn’t the badge of honor I thought it was. It’s nothing but a thinly veiled excuse for why someone or some task wasn’t a priority for me. Busy is convenient. Of course my intentions were good in writing, but what I was saying in these letters (usually thank you notes to relatives WEEKS past the event) was that because I was busy, it was ok I was so delayed in expressing gratitude.
It’s a bit ironic that the word busy is often equated with success, but “busywork” is doing work without purpose, without priority. It’s work for the sake of work and not for something greater. And being a “busybody” isn’t a positive either. And yet, we somehow think being a busy person makes us important.
I don’t want to be busy.
I want to do meaningful work and have time for the most important people and projects in my life.
I don’t want my kids to be busy either. Soccer, ballet, swim, gymnastics, basketball, tap, theatre, piano, football; it could consume them! Not to mention needing to rush out of work so my husband and I can be their personal car service.
I want to offer my kids every opportunity, but I also know they don’t need to experience all those opportunities at once. World class athletes, artists, and musicians aren’t doomed if their didn’t take up their craft at 3 and become a prodigy by 6. I had a good chunk on my college education paid for with a music scholarship for playing an instrument I didn’t even pick up for the first time until middle school.
So why all the rush and drive to fill our lives with every single opportunity? The result of all this busyness is not making us healthy, wealthy or wise. Just tired, overwhelmed, and afraid of missing out.
We don’t have to be victims of our schedules. We can choose how to fill our days and evenings as there are actually very few “must do’s” in our life. We have ultimate flexibility in choosing when we go to bed, when we get up, when we eat, how long we spend at work, how productive we are, and the quality of the work we produce. Why then, do we open up an entire day worth of time to the those who can request time on our calendar?
I’m ok with a full calendar, but I never want a busy one. I need time respond to e-mails, time to connect with my team, time to eat, and time to work on critical deliverables. We have more autonomy over our schedules than we think. Are there seasons where we’re sprint toward a goal and it seems like there is no time for anyone? Of course! But it is, and should be, the exception and not the norm. As we head into the last 40 days of the year, take the time to create an honest calendar that accounts for all the work you’re striving to complete, the boundaries you’re striving to keep, and the habits you’re striving to build.