It’s uncontroversial to say there is an epidemic of “busyness” in this society. I’ve noticed that lots of the people I hang out with are having a struggle with all the things. So, I am putting my thoughts down about the experience I have had and am still having over the last month or so, as all my obligations cascade into a singularity and appear to suck my life up with them.
Before I continue I want to acknowledge that many, even most people don’t have the luxury of contemplating what their “busy” means or is. If you have 3 minimum wage jobs and are taking care of a family on 4.5 hours sleep per day. That’s busy. It’s also a tragic failing of our communal responsibility that something like that is necessary to survive. If you are working shift and maxing out your overtime to meet your financial obligations, that is also busy. It’s the kind of busy that really is beyond your control. It’s worth complaining about.
I caught myself today, in a moment of *omgimsobusyidontknowwhattodo*. You might say I took a mindful look at what that really meant. My work is pretty intense when it’s client time and tedious when it’s admin time. I have a paper I’m struggling to finish. I have to walk the dog. I have to train for the Bike Rally. I have to pay some attention to my partner and I have to pay some mind to my children (who are in a shared custody arrangement and are pretty well behaved teens). What I realized quickly was that my panic busy comes when I don’t have enough time to do nothing at all. In the moment that it happened, I was having lunch and slowly finishing my coffee while reading an interesting article. I knew I wanted to go for a run and I knew I had to see 4 more clients, redraft a letter, write this blog, organize some files and plan my kids summer activities. I felt judgmental toward myself that I should be doing all that instead of my 1 hr of eating and nothing. I finished my coffee and my article and decided to try to stop panicking.
I just don’t do well when I careen from thing to thing to thing, even if it’s seamless coordinated careening. I know people who seem to thrive on this. I know people who pretend to thrive on this. I know people who think they should be thriving on this. I am not any of those people.
I’m still busy but my busy includes doing absolutely nothing productive at intervals to counteract all the flim-flam productivity the rest of the day. It’s how I keep my physical and mental health and we should all be entitled to this as humans in a modern age.