Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Busy" is Diverting You

I've decided not to use the word "busy" as a response to the question "How are things going?" or "How's work?" It's surprisingly hard.

I know it's just a typical, off-the-cuff thing we say, but removing the dreaded b-word from our vernacular can be the start of a transition away from running our lives on fast-forward.

"Busy" is, of course, the standard state of being these days. Just because it's the standard, though, doesn't mean it's right. Being busy means you've got your head down and people are demanding your time. It doesn't mean you're working on the right things or being effective. There's a superficial feeling of validation when we feel like there's more to do than there are hours in the day. We're wanted. Can you imagine responding with, "I'm not busy. That's for sure." It simply feels like we're not valuable, that the world could get along without us.

Saying "busy" may make us feel wanted, but it also reinforces a culture of urgency where working up a sweat or staying late is a badge of honour. I'm tired of this culture. I want to focus on results, not the show.

I don't want to be known for being busy. In fact, I think if I say I'm busy, I'm openly acknowledging that I'm not asking the big questions. I'm just doing the work laid out before me. I'd rather be able to say I'm definitely, unequivocally not busy. Rather, I'm determining what's important and I'm giving it its proper focus. I'm doing a few things well and I'm confident they are the right things to work on. I'm not multi-tasking. I've made the bold and courageous choice of saying what's important. I'm mono-tasking.

This does leave the challenge of what to do in that small talk situation. What to do when someone politely, but without much actual interest, asks you how you're doing? I don't know. I end up saying, "I've made a conscious choice to not say I'm busy. I think saying I'm busy means..."

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