Recently my family dropped off a present to be gifted to another family member. We were told this family member would come and pick it up.
We waited … nothing. Then they organized a girlfriend to come and pick it up. She didn’t show either. “She’s a busy nurse, you know.” Then they outsourced the task to another friend.
He would come the next day, apparently. 48 hours later he didn’t show. He’s a busy home builder trying to finish a big job.
After 2 weeks and many failed attempts no one could pick up the present and give it to the receiver. So I drove 15 minutes down the road and dropped it off to them. Not hard.
Being busy isn’t an excuse. Busy people get nowhere in life.
Busyness is a form of elitism
I went to the doctor yesterday with what felt like a broken ankle.
He was 30 minutes late to the appointment. When I finally got into his office he referred me to a specialist. I walked out to the car and rang to make an appointment with his rheumatologist.
They weren’t taking any appointments until March 2024. I explained I couldn’t walk and that probably wouldn’t work. So I had to go back inside and get the doctor to change the name on the referral.
Reception kept me waiting another 30 minutes. Then when I finally got to see him for the second time he said “Sorry I’m busy, please take a seat.”
My face went red. “I need to see you now doc as I’ve got to get home to work.”
“Sorry, I’m busy.”
He wasn’t busy at all. He was joking with a good-looking nurse. I walked over to the manager of the medical practice and told her to fix the issue right away. The doctor came out flustered.
No one has ever challenged his authority or B.S. busyness excuse before. I did. And he didn’t like it. I got the new referral and went home.
The point of this story is many people we encounter in life use busyness as a form of elitism.
They say “I’m busy” … as if I’m not. That’s what I feel like saying. We all have things to do and people to see, doesn’t mean our precious time should be wasted.
I have zero time for the busy elites.
With a 9 month old daughter to look after, I must get home as soon as possible from any life admin trips in the car. If people don’t respect my schedule then I challenge them. You should too.
Don’t let elites chuck you around like a rag doll.
“‘Busy’ implies that the person is out of control of their life”
I find during the moments of my life when I can’t control a simple schedule, I am in a dark place.
How hard is it to show up on time? Or not to fill your calendar with junk food appointments that get you nowhere? Or to make time to eat, piss, and say I love you to your partner?
Busyness is band-aid for a bigger problem.
Being busy = “this isn’t important”
Podcast host Debbie Millman says busyness is a decision. When we use the excuse “I’m busy” what we really mean is:
- “This isn’t important”
- “I’m not sure”
- “This decision scares me”
- “I don’t know”
- “I can’t be assed”
- “Who are you again?” (Person asking for your time)
The label busy is the easiest one to assign to any task or ask that comes up. It seems smart because clever people are busy being awesome, right?
Busy is a lazy label we apply to something because we can’t be bothered to think about the situation properly and make a real decision.
So we just say “I’m busy.”
If everything is a priority … then nothing is
Busy people don’t have priorities.
They just jump at whatever grabs their attention or feels most urgent. This is how most of society lives and it’s sad.
We all need priorities. Instead of saying “I’m busy” the antidote is to say “This isn’t a priority right now.”
The time exists for any goal we want to chase because we’ll make time for what feels important. I don’t tell my baby daughter “Sorry pumpkin, daddy is too busy to play Lego with you tonight.” No.
I make time.
Her life matters and I don’t want to miss her childhood for a bunch of phone notifications.
What’s weird about productivity is most of us can only handle 2–3 priorities at a time, whereas we think we can juggle 20, no problem. If you have more than 3 priorities, you should seriously consider what the hell is going on.
The sad tragedy of busyness
The challenge with busyness is if you believe the lie, then you’ll always be too busy. That means there’s no solution.
Busyness is a construct of the mind. It’s the result of being mindless instead of mindful.
Busy bees can’t think clearly. So they can’t see the 10,000-foot view or think from a first principles perspective. They’re stuck on the micro.
Let me give you an example. I recently got into a mini-war with my local council over noise pollution. 111 of us stood up to them and protested. When it came time to meet the mayor and solve the issue, I was stunned at the solutions posed.
Everyone in local government was talking about fines and bans. The noise comes from music created by the community. We suggested that instead of banning them we should move them to a location where their work could be amplified. The council didn’t get it.
They were stuck on the micro. They couldn’t see the big picture because everyone involved was just busy and wanted the problem off their desk. This is what I mean.
Busyness causes us to act stupid.
We can’t see the real problem and get distracted by irrelevant problems. And we can easily transcend into negativity — where we seek to get vengeance, shut down, fine, belittle, harass, or yell at fellow humans.
The answer is to nuke busyness in the butt.
People spend too much time doing and not enough time thinking about what they should be doing — Naval Ravikant
Being busy is a piece of piss
In the corporate world busyness is a badge of honor, but the paradox of busyness is that it’s easy to be busy.
It takes zero effort.
Load up your calendar. Say yes to every ask. Be late to everything. Piss people off. Double book meetings. Become a no-show in your kid’s life. Spend more time in the office than at home.
How easy is that?
What’s hard is to be disciplined. To protect your calendar like you protect yourself from deadly viruses. What’s even harder is to spend time idle. Time when you do nothing and don’t have a phone buzzing your brain out.
Not being busy is the goal we should worship.