When you asked someone how it was going five years ago, the dreaded answer used to be “fine.” I never knew what that meant other than:
1. They were in a hurry.
2. Things were not horrible.
3. They did not want to talk to me.
4. In fact, things were just fine.
Worst was if you knew things were not fine, like you just screwed up and my wife told me things were fine. Even I knew this meant they were not fine.
Whatever the reason, it used to drive me crazy as it is an innocuous answer that has no real meaning but is accepted everywhere. Even now as I am writing, I can feel myself getting frustrated with this word.
Language has power. Fine has been replaced over the last 5 years with an even worse word that has overtaken our society. The #1 answer I get to the question of “How are you?” “How are Things going?” Etc. is the word “Busy.”
It does not matter who I ask. Business colleagues are busy, Mothers are busy, Pastors are busy, Teachers are busy and we know our kids are busy.
We have become addicted to being busy. Don’t agree with me? Try not using the word for a Week.
This addiction is killing us and as as hard to break as any other. The challenge is that one is reinforced by everyone around us as positive.
I think even babies are busy. I talk to young people who work 10 hours a week and guess what? They are busy as well. How in the world did everyone get so busy? It is amazing we can barely agree on politics, God’s role in our lives, education, etc . but we can all agree that we are busy.
It seems like we are a world of people that is be unified in our “busy-ness.” I am sure you have used the word no less than 30 times in the last week. Isn’t it amazing that with so many people being so busy that it seems like less and less is actually getting done? I know there are great things going on. We have new technologies being invented all the time.
Do not take this for negativity on what is being accomplished in the world. It is the cost of our addiction to Busy that has real consequences.
Technology has sped us up. That is for sure. We have certainly over-filled and over-complicated our lives. That is true as well.
Before, we can work on a Cure, we have to first admit we have a problem and that that problem has consequences.
So, let’s start with the language we use. As I stated before, language has power and I think if we can talk differently, we can begin to think differently. Then, we can actually be able to change our perceptions, our activities and our lives. My problem is the use of the word busy. It does not relate the meaning we prescribe to it. We use it as a positive. We use it as an excuse. We use it like we are passive victims to a day that someone else planned. We use it to obfuscate our responsibility in our day. Think about it this way. I have a 4 year old, Evan. He is awesome and guess what? He is amazingly busy.
I would not call him exactly productive, but definitely busy. We should judge ourselves on a different scale. The word busy is like the word food. If you walked up to me and asked what I had for lunch and I said “food” you would think I was such a jerk and did not want to talk to you.
The truth is that the word busy is just as unhelpful in describing your day. Food in many cases is actually better as it is at least accurate. It is crazy. The word busy now includes the time filled texting, adding photos to Instagram or trolling Facebook. Just in case you wondered. Those do not count as busy and are actually things you do when you are not busy 90% of the time. The word busy also has become an answer to. “How are you?” When did busy become an emotion?
The craziness of busy has got to stop. Today, it all counts as busy and we all just go on agreeing with each other as if there was no other choice.
THERE IS ANOTHER CHOICE. The only New Year’s resolution I have ever kept was the one I made three years ago to stop using the word “busy.” When I stopped using this word, I realized I had to actually describe what I was doing, not doing, prioritizing and forgetting. I actually had to start looking at my days, my emotions and my life and provide the language that actually described what I was doing and how I was feeling.
I was making choice and prioritizing and if I didn’t want to go to something, I actually had to tell that person why.
All of a sudden, I was having to use like productive, unproductive, lost, excited, nervous, frustrated, challenged, etc. I started to become real and my relationships became stronger.
Here is a big one. I actually had to apologize when I did not get back to someone or blew someone off and I had to start owning my actions and outcomes. A funny thing began to happen. I became much more productive with my time and my schedule began to line up with my priorities. I had more time in my day and I actually got much more done.
This is not because I was so great. (Trust Me) I had to start assigning value to my day, to my activities and measuring the outcomes. Busy was not longer good enough. I began to schedule my priorities first and let the little things go. I am still a work in progress on making sure my priorities are correct.
Following are a couple of changes that were helpful for me. My point is not to turn every moment into another productive opportunity or to replace the word busy with the word productive. Lying in the grass, playing catch, worshipping and going swimming are all incredibly valuable and make life worth living.
This is about being truthful with ourselves and each other. This exercise is about taking ownership of your life and setting your direction and agenda for your life.
(Hopefully) Helpful and Practical Hints:
1. Stop Multi-tasking… It does not work and it annoys people. Every time you are multi-tasking, one of those things does not need to be done.
2. Take 5-10 minutes at the end of the day to evaluate your day and set the top priorities for the following morning. Congratulate yourself for your successes and forgive yourself when you blow it. . Grace abounds anew each day in case you feel like you missed it.
3. Have more fun with life and build in moments to take a breath and think. We will talk more about thinking later.
4. Be honest and say you are sorry when you blow it. People are very forgiving but your schedule did not miss lunch, you did.
5. 90% of on-line activities are time takes, not time makers. You decide what you do, what you don’t’ do and own the results. You deserve better than busy. We all do.
If you were not allowed you use the words Busy, how would you describe your day?
All of our time has an opportunity cost as we could be doing something else. It is when we don’t assign a value to our time, that we can just fill our lives.
Life is too important to miss. Start Today.