Busy is Not a Status Symbol
by Robin Sacks
by Robin Sacks
I recently 'let go' of a long-time client.
In doing so, I also let go of a part of my monthly income. But it had to be done.
There were many factors weighed in my final decision, but one of the biggies that I simply could no longer manage was the "busy" factor.
This client had an unsound relationship with busyness. The flaw being that her 'being busy' was articulated constantly and an excuse for everything...but it was not real.
She wore her imagined busyness as a status symbol.
The more I observed this, the more I realized that a lot of people do this...and some of them wear it like a badge of honor.
Let me get right to the take-away - being "busy" is NOT a status symbol.
This client, like many people, had made a HABIT of saying things like, "I'm so busy," "I am running non-stop," "I'm burning the candle at both ends," "I have so much to do today" and "I can't talk right now, I have so much on my plate."
You know what the amazing part was? NO, she didn't. Not a single one of those statements was true. Not a single one. But she said those things to everyone, all the time, no matter what the situation.
If someone asked her how things were going with her business, she'd reply, "Busy, very busy." even when it wasn't. If someone called her on the phone and she was ready to be done with the conversation, she would chime in with, "Well, I'm very busy today, so I have to go." Even when consultants who were being considered to be hired to help increase business asked how things were going, she would say, "Busy, very busy." I would sit in those meetings and ask myself silently, 'then why are you needing to hire them?' My thoughts would only be interrupted with them asking her, "Then why do you need us?"
Sometimes, I am not even sure she knew she was saying it. It had just become an inane reflex.
It is almost as if there are some who believe that "being busy" is a sign of achievement in and of itself.
Realistically, there are times in every one of our lives when we are genuinely busy. There is a lot going on and we are taking action, making decisions, and juggling things. However, when 'being busy' simply becomes something you want others to think about you, you have done yourself a great disservice.
It becomes quickly obvious to people interacting with you that you are, in fact, not "busy." Instead, you may come off as simply unmotivated (because you talk a lot, but don't do much about it) or inefficient (if you are that busy, you might want to plan things a bit better).
If you find yourself in this habit, here is a quick routine to help you make a shift:
B - Become aware that you are using a filler phrase as a defense for something else.
U - Use your time better. You have plenty of time if you schedule it more effectively.
S - Sit down and do something! Just talking or thinking or planning doesn't get things done.
Y - You need to make better choices with the words you are using to describe yourself.
All of us can switch-over to autopilot on occasion, but if your entire life is on autopilot, you risk showing up in ways that are contrary to how you think others see you.
I invite and encourage you to spend a day in total self-awareness. What do you hear yourself say? What phrases or words are habits? What is your tone of voice like? (For example, if you listen to your tone, you might be able to understand why people always ask you things like, 'why are you angry about this?' when you are not.) What are your behaviors like? Do you always sit or stand a certain way that says things about you before you even open your mouth? Does your face always look mad, confused, happy, stern?
You can also ask a friend, family member, or co-worker to give you some honest observations about your autopilot words and behaviors. Don't defend and deflect their observations. They are most likely true. (You will find that you will hear the same things over and over and over from different people...believe them!)
Give it a shot and you will learn a ton about yourself.