Monday, June 23, 2014

Busyness -

The article below, written by Allison Vaillancourt, for The Chronicle of Higher Education, could not be more timely. Busyness is a monster I've been trying to banish from my life for many years. Just when I think I have "it" down, I get too cocky, add something to my plate, and off I go again in busyness.

However - Last year, this time, when I was walking faster than I could run, I had a lovely accident. This blown elbow and accompanying injuries was my awakening, hopefully for quite awhile. And it was here when I really learned that being busy, even in goodness, is not good.

So now - a year later - I am still learning, but I am implementing the "Life is great. My plate is full, but I wouldn't choose another way" lifestyle. And - I've learned to say "No," even to things I really want to be a part of. And it is freeing! And I haven't lost any opportunities to grow, so it must be OK to say no!

One choice I made when my children were young was "to come to them with dry hands," meaning I'm never, ever, ever too busy for family. They come first. They always have, they always will. There's nothing wrong with taking time to breathe and enjoy - life is short, I know.

Amen -


Let's Banish Busyness!

June 10, 2014
I work with someone who begins every conversation by telling me how busy she is. I don't mean some conversations, or most conversations; I mean every single conversation. Whenever I am about to talk with her, I ask myself, "I wonder if she will tell me how busy she is?" And every single time, she does. Is she accomplishing a lot? No; less than most. But is she "so busy?" Oh, yeah.

This particular colleague is not the only one who does this. As Jen Sincero, the author of You Are a Badass, has noted, "I'm so busy" is the new "I'm fine, thanks." And it is getting annoying.

I'm curious about why so many of us seem obsessed with talking about how busy we are and why it seems acceptable to acknowledge that our lives are basically out of control. How can this be a good thing? I'm sure there are many who think being buried is a badge of honor—proof that they are important and in demand. But really, when is the last time you heard a world leader or MacArthur "Genius Grant" winner moan, "I can't believe how many meetings I have. And, oh my God, the email!"

The people who seem to accomplish the most seem to complain the least, and they also seem to have an unusual sense of focus. They don't think they can do everything people want them to do, and unlike us, they don't even try.

A circle of my friends has been exploring the topic of busyness lately and we have decided there are three key lessons for us to remember.

Lesson One: We can have it all, just not at the same time. Rather than trying to be superhuman, what if we decided to focus on just two or three key areas and let everything else fall away? Life might not be as interesting, but it might be less chaotic.

Lesson Two: Talking about being busy signals to others that we can't be trusted with anything new or bigger. "David can barely handle what's on his plate now, so he certainly can't be trusted to lead this high-profile project."

Lesson Three: Our minds pay attention to our mouths. Constant conversations about feeling overwhelmed and out of control are self-reinforcing and self-sabotaging. When we talk about being overly busy, we feel overly busy, and this mental swirling makes it hard for us to get anything done.

In response to these realizations, my circle has pledged to banish the word "busy" from our collective vocabulary in order to sound less pathetic and more in control. When asked how she is doing, one friend now responds, "I am doing more than I ever dreamed possible." Another says, "Terrific; there is a lot going on." They both appear energetic and engaged rather than scattered and manic. It's a good look for them.

Are you feeling "incredibly busy" these days? What's you standard response to "How are you?"

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