Keeping Busy

Guest Written By Andy Workman: Mindset Specialist, Clinical Hypotherapist, Author & International Speaker. 

“Keeping busy?”….a very common question in our hectic modern world, but when we look at it – and our response when asked – it could provide an opportunity to evaluate whether we are indeed as “busy” as we first think. 

In days gone by we would meet each other and share fairly standard greetings, such as “good morning”, “how are you?”, “how do you do?” or “hope you’re keeping well”. They were harmless enough and applied no pressure on anyone for any specific answer. If anything, when asked of with the wrong person, the enquiries into their welfare might illicit a lengthy and doom-laden response, but that’s a whole different article in itself. 

Our modern world has changed somewhat and so has the manner in which we greet each other. Think about it. How often are you greeted with the question “keeping busy?”. 

It’s a greeting that comes with added subconcious pressure. We are all supposed to be busy aren’t we? Modern society almost demands that we all do our fair share and more. If I’m not busy, what does that say about me? If I’m not busy – am I lazy? Am I a failure? Am I not as valuable to my company, society, my family or even myself as a person as someone who is busy? What does it say about the service or product I offer and its value or attractiveness to my employer or customer if I’m not busy? Should I be doing more? 

If I am busy – why? Am I popular? Am I the one that everyone seeks out when they need something? Is my service or product in ever increasing demand? Or am I taking on too much? Am I disorganised? Am I being put upon and being taken advantage of? Are my family, friends, colleagues or even my boss doing their bit? 

Either way, busy or not, there seems to be an expectation that we have to be busy to both enjoy life and to be a worthwhile member of society. How often have you said or heard someone else say, “I’ve been busy all day and I’ve achieved nothing!” I know that I have had times when I have been flat out at top speed from dawn to dusk and had very little to actually show for it at the end of the day. I was BUSY, but at the same time I was neither effective or productive – there is a massive imbalance there. 

It’s worth noting that the Japenese recognise the dangers of being busy. Their calligraphy (kanji) uses symbols to depict words, often combining two or more symbols to convey the desired message. For example, the symbol for “listening” is a combination of the symbols for ears, heart and eyes. It informs the reader that in order to really listen you must use your eyes and heart as well as your ears in order to gain the full benefit of what you are hearing. When we look at the Japenese symbol for “Busy” it is a combination of two symbols. The first is “heart”, the second is “killing”. It tells us that by being “busy” you are merely killing your heart. As with many pictorial languages, it has a number of different possible interpretations and can also mean the loss of something precious. That might be time, family, interaction, hobbies, invaluable rest or even your reputation, all lost in the moment spent being busy rather than efficient etc. 

We all like to be productive, efficient and effective in our own contribution to our personal, professional and social lives, so how can we do so without burning out. The answer is simple really. We just need to take your foot of the gas a little. When we are busy, our mind and body are working at full capacity and any engineer will tell you that even the finest quality machine cannot keep that up for long. If we reduce the “busy” in our lives we invariably achieve more. We are able to evaluate, prioritise, plan, organise and arrange our tasks and time more effectively. This often results in tasks being completed in better time and to an improved standard. It removes the desire to procrastinate and put off the plethora of outstanding tasks and demands, thereby achieving more. Most importantly it often results in us gaining some free time which we can use to the benefit of ourselves and our loved ones – which in our chaotic existence is a necessity that is all too often overlooked. Life becomes so much more enjoyable and productive when we slow down a bit and take stock of what we are doing and how we are spending our time. If we stop being busy, our mind as well as our heart, benefits enormously, stress falls away and life becomes enjoyable again.

Are YOU keeping busy?

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