How to Evaluate Busyness in Your Life.


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Tim Kreider‘s Lazy: A Manifesto featured in Tim Ferriss's Tools of Titans is brilliant.

“If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing. “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy Busy.” It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.”

This frantic, self-congratulatory busyness is a distinctly upscale affliction. Notice it isn’t generally people pulling back-to-back shifts in the ICU, taking care of their parents, or holding down three minimum-wage jobs they have to commute to by bus who need to tell you how busy they are; what those people are is not busy but tired. Exhausted. Dead on their feet. It’s most often said by people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve “encouraged” their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they are addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.

Almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t working or doing something to promote their work. They schedule in time with their friends the way 4.0 students make sure to sign up for some extracurricular activities because they look good on college applications. I recently wrote a friend asking if he wanted to do something this week, and he answered that he didn’t have a lot of time but if something was going on to let him know and maybe he could ditch work for a few hours. My question had not a preliminary heads-up to some future invitation: This was the invitation. I was hereby asking him to do something with me. But his busyness was like some vast churning noise through which he was shouting out at me, and gave up trying to shout back over it.”

I’m guilty of all of this. What a great recap of most of our lives - and a few questions for us to ask ourselves as we head into 2018:

  • What self imposed busyness do you have in your life?

  • When you’re not working, do you feel guilty and why?

  • Is busyness an honor to you?

  • What do you want to quit this year in order to become less “busy” and more available?

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