The trap of being “busy”

An exhausted designer in a studio.

An exhausted designer in a studio. Photo: John Lambert Pearson / Flickr.

“I’m busy.”  When your friends and family say that, what’s the impression you get?  Do they sound stressed out?  Or is it almost a kind of bragging?  A sign of being important and sought after.

The New York Times had an opinion article titled The Busy Trap.  Maybe not consciously, but do people use the excuse of “being busy” to avoid looking at the big picture?  For example, trying to stay on top of work when the bigger problem of whether they’re in the right career?  Thinking about what to buy, instead of what kind of life do they want to live?

We want to believe that we matter so much that things could not get along with us.  Truth or self-delusion?  Check out this excerpt:

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.

One of the best benefits of vagabonding is that it encourages you to slow down and think.  When I’m back home in the States, sometimes it feels like society and work conspire to prevent me from doing either.  “Busy” can be a noise that crowds out your inner voice.  Travel strips away the familiar people and routine, forcing you to look at the world (and yourself) in a much more direct way.  Seeing alternatives will trigger you to consider possibilities you hadn’t known existed.

Do you know people stuck in the “busy trap”?  Share your stories in the comments.

Posted by | Comments (6)  | September 17, 2012
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind


6 Responses to “The trap of being “busy””

  1. Lynne Friedmann Says:

    I read this posting not less than 15 minutes after a conference call in which the organizer was confident of everyone’s participation in the completion of a project at hand because “No one takes three-week vacations any more.” I informed the group that I’m heading to Patagonia for a month at the end of the year. That news was met with stony silence.

  2. Brian S Says:

    Interesting – I had always thought of being busy as some either not being able to manage their time right or just actually being busy. “Bragging” is a whole new perspective that totally makes sense and I’ve already applied it to a couple people in cubicles near me 🙂

  3. Franklin Chen Says:

    I don’t brag about being busy. I just wish I had more time, and nine lives.

  4. K-eM Says:

    My boss uses being busy in order to do a lot of things. Bragging because she’s so important and is the only one who can do her job (not), avoid things she doesn’t like/want to do, and because (sadly) she’s been too busy for so long she doesn’t know how to not be busy. She can’t go on vacation for more than a week and she always takes work with her. Nothing like getting work emails from her when she’s supposed to be lying on the beach. In fact the only time she takes vacation is when she gets the notification from HR that she can no longer accumulate more vacation time until she takes some.

  5. vagabondette mandy Says:

    I used to be “busy”. Now I do my best to avoid it. I much prefer being relaxed! I included this post in my weekly roundup here: http://vagabondette.com/europe/weekly-roundup-september-19-2012/

  6. Weekly Roundup – September 19, 2012 | Vagabondette Says:

    […] Read it here […]