How many of your casual conversations start something like this:
“How are you?”
“Oh, you know, busy!”
It seems busy is the new fine.
Default answer, default setting
What’s the big deal? It’s just a throw away response to a polite question, which probably doesn’t interest the asker that much anyway.
But it is a big deal – it’s accepting and reinforcing a social norm.
Busyness is no longer a blip, a short burst of extra activity, an exception– it’s the default. Being busy is not just socially acceptable, it’s almost expected.
Busy is not fine
By operating with busyness as the default setting we are doing ourselves a disservice. We are sending out messages like:
- if you’re not busy, you’re not successful or important
- it’s not enough to be satisfied with what you have, you should always want to do more and have more
- quantity is more valuable than quality.
Worse still busyness blinds us. When we’re busy, we’re more concerned with the what than the why. When we’re busy, there’s no room to think, reflect or question. In a world where we’re busy by default, in effect, we put our heads in the sand.
I am on a personal mission to fight back against the modern day social norm of busyness. About nine months ago, I started to make a concerted effort to remove the word busy from my vocabulary – especially as a default response to the ubiquitous, “how are you?”.
I have also tried to reframe my own small talk. Instead of, “Did you have a good summer holiday?”, I’ve been all about asking, “Did you have a nice, relaxing summer holiday?”.
I am not the only person on this mission – I’ve discovered others concerned with this same issue. If busy is something that has been troubling you, I suggest that you check out Courtney Carver’s 21 Day Busy Boycott and it’s really supportive Facebook group. Shawn Fink at the Abundant Mama also has her #BanBusy challenge .
Do you agree that busy seems to be the default setting? Have you taken any steps to tone down the busyness in your life lately?