I am not the type of person who glorifies ‘the hustle’. I don’t relish in telling people how overbooked I am, or how little sleep I’ve gotten. I almost feel embarrassed when I default to ‘busy’ when people ask how I’m doing. It feels like I don’t have my shit together, because in a perfect world, and if I was the type of uber-successful person I’d like to be one day, I would be able to balance my work so that it doesn’t run my life. For some bizarre reason, though, people love being busy. They wear ‘busy’ like a badge of honor, almost as if being busy equates to being important. “I have no idea how you fit working out into your schedule. I’m way too busy to workout. I just can’t find the time.” Or my favorite: “God, you’re so lucky you slept 9 hours last night. I’m so busy I can’t remember that last time I slept more than a few hours.” Really?!
I’m going to level with you here- you’re not that fucking busy. If we’re being generous saying you sleep 8 hours a day and work 40 hours a week, that still leaves you 72 additional hours of free time each week to do literally anything else. Forbes and Inc. both think the 40 hour work week is outdated, anyway, so if you’re telling me you can’t find time to grab a coffee and blame it on being busy, my assumption isn’t that you’re important because you have so much going on, it’s that you are a poor planner and not very productive. You’re busy, bottom line, because you choose to be, and because it feels good. And I totally, 100% get it. Telling someone you’ve got so much going on you couldn’t be bothered to go to brunch, even on a Sunday, feels phenomenal. It’s like saying “I’m better than you,” without having to actually say it. Plus, there’s a collective guilt we’ve all bought into that says, in the same way busyness correlates to importance, lack of busyness- idleness- correlates to failure.
On a personal level, I am, for better or worse, extremely selfish. I put my mental and physical wellbeing above literally everything else I do, 1) because I can right now (No kids! No boyfriend! Not even any plants!) and 2) because I’ve never understood the point of working so hard only to hate the person I’ve become in the process. I haven’t missed my 6:00 A.M. morning workout in months. I do not work after 7:00 p.m. unless I absolutely, positively have to, which I don’t if I stay on schedule during the day. And I don’t work Sunday nights, ever, although Sunday mornings are fair game- I do great brainstorming over tea on a Sunday morning. The hardest part of this was training my brain to look at that ‘me-time’- my workouts, my weekday evenings, my Sunday nights- not as idling, but as thriving. Dedicating those few hours to myself before and after I work forces me to be more productive during the day because I know my time is limited. And guess what? When you don’t allow yourself endless hours to get stuff done, surprisingly, you find a way to finish in a timely manner. The day I realized I could actually accomplish even my lengthiest to-do lists in the span of a normal workday instead of running myself into the ground working day and night was almost disappointing because I realized how much time I’d wasted being busy just so I could tell people I was and fluff up my ego.
Where am I going with this? Being busy isn’t something to idolize. This isn’t to say my strategy is *the* solution to the ‘busy’ problem because I’m not sure there is just one solution. The answer will be different for everyone, but the important takeaway is that making time for the things and people we love is guaranteed much healthier for your mental state than being busy. You can only sustain on the satisfaction of feeling like you’re better than other people for so long, and when that wears off, what will you be left with? The change starts with the way we talk about our work and reframing the conversation around what equates to success. To me, success is finding ways to optimize my time so I can spend more of it doing the things that make me happy, and that’s what we’re going to tackle this week, everything from strategies to shorten the time it takes to get you out the door each morning (hint: PERMS), to tips on becoming a morning person, or at least someone who isn’t filled with dread when they hear their alarm clock go off every day.
And do me a favor. Next time someone asks you how you’re doing, before you knee-jerk answer ‘Busy!’, just DON’T. Say absolutely anything else, like, “I feel… energetic/optomistic/excited/relaxed etc.” No one wants or needs to hear how busy you are, literally ever again.