“Crazy Busy”

Is busyness the new status symbol? Tim Kreider’s New York Times article from July 1, 2012 titled “The ‘Busy’ Trap,” explores how busyness can affect how we relate to each other. A friend asks, “How are you doing?” and the response for many is, “Crazy busy.” The author says it is a “boast disguised as a complaint”—and a new status symbol of sorts – that people feel ”anxious or guilty if they are not either working or doing something to promote their work.”

Time has always been the most valuable of commodities — “A waste of time is the most extravagant of all expenses” or “Time well spent” or “An inch of gold cannot buy an inch of time.” These sayings capture what Kreider highlights in his article: “I have always understood that the best way to spend my limited time on earth is to spend it with the people I love.” It’s the long walks with a friend, or a beer and a belly laugh with a friend that will mean the most at the end of his life…not the feeling that he wished he had worked harder.

Are people using the excuse of “being busy” as an excuse to not relate to each other or as a distraction from one’s internal world, feelings, and dreams? Kreider notes that “The space and quiet of idleness provides the necessary condition for standing back from one’s life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections, and waiting for the wild summer lightening strikes of inspiration—it is paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.” It is in our “down time” that we can be silly, creative and spontaneous. It was a dream — after all — that gave Mary Shelley the idea for Frankenstein. We need the space to dream, discover and create.

What price do we pay for “The Busy Trap?” How does being on a cell phone, iPad or the computer affect our connections to our significant others? Is time the most precious commodity of all? And if so how does feeling like we do not have enough time empty the bank account in our relationships? It’s a fascinating paradox that perhaps slowing down will somehow, ironically, make us richer.

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” – Carl Sandburg

Gail Grace, LCSW
Got thoughts or opinions on this topic? A helpful anecdote you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment.

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous July 13, 2012 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    Being busy makes it difficult to arrange for time off from work. Why is it that a vacation can be such a guilty pleasure? Is it because the economic times we live in makes us feel as if the hold we have on our careers and positions is so fragile? Perhaps we feel as if we’d better not stop — someone may pick up where we left off? We want the choice — we want to choose when to slow down and to NOT be busy. But we fear having that choice taken away — to be “out of work” — maybe that’s the impetus that drives the treadmill.

  2. Anonymous July 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    With the advent of handheld compuers and smartphones it is much easier to ‘connect’ with our offices and virtual friends 24/7 – and sometimes we forget how important it is to power down in order to connect with friends and family without all the e-distractions the devices bring into our lives.
    I enjoyed the “Crazy Busy” article – and your blog!

  3. Gail Grace July 21, 2012 at 1:18 am - Reply

    I had a dream last night that I was given a “thirteen hour watch” — a gift of time — and a hand-held device! The metaphor is a wish for more time — but is it also a way to hold on to it?
    With everything that competes for our time, it’s little wonder that these distractions breed anxiety, causing us to get “wound up.”
    I am conscious of the need to ease up at times. A challenge to be sure, but a noble goal.

    Gail

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