Are You Too Busy?

Most of us sit around claiming that we're busy people. We pack lots of different things into our schedules and then gloat about how busy we are. However, over at the New York Times, author Tim Kreider suggests busy-ness is almost an addiction and it's best to embrace idleness instead.

Photo by Rachel Hobbs.

Kreider acknowledges that we're all busy sometimes because that's just how life works, but he also suggests we do it to ourselves on purpose:

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.

Kreider's solution? Sit back and relax. When he started feeling overwhelmed from busyness, he escaped so he could actually work:

Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration - it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.

So we want to hear from you. Are you one of those people that fills up every hour of every day, or are you more like Kreider and content to be productive for a few hours and then enjoy your idle time? If you are too busy, whose fault is it?

The 'Busy' Trap [New York Times]


    Even though I have always thought of myself as lazy, my family recently accused me of being a workaholic. I always have a long list of things to do and am just beginning to realise that getting those things done and making the list smaller actually agitates me, therefore I add to the list and the cycle continues. Full time work, part time study, running a small business and working on personal projects leaves little time for contemplation especially in this hyper-connected world. Have been thinking I need to hack my lifestyle and re-prioritise.

    (by the way is it just my browser or is there an American spell checker on this thing?)

    Great article! Busyness has become a badge of honour for many people. I think its something ingrained in us. Idleness is seen as unproductive and so is not valued. So we all make every effort to be seen to be productive. But another big reason is that people use it to escape from facing up to things sometimes. I catch myself doing this as well. Problem is you can do this and get to a point where you've wasted years not facing up to things... so far less productive. We work with our clients to get them clear about what is really important and focus their time on that - so busy activity is creating the results they want. Not as easy as it sounds for lots of people though. Thanks for sharing a great article.

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