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Monday, November 12, 2012

How to Avoid the Busy Trap

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Have you ever had someone say to you, "I'm just sooooo busy right now"?

I'm sure almost everyone in your life, including you, is "busy" - with work, family, activities, and life in general.

I'll admit that I'm usually one of those people. A friend asks How's life going? and my response would be, "Oh my gosh, we are just so busy."

And then I read this article in the New York Times called The Busy Trap.  And my mind was blown.

I highly recommend you read the article in full, but here's my attempt to summarize Tim Kreider's amazing perspective on life.
  • "I'm so busy" is usually a boast of how much you are doing or have going on - you're looking for the person to say, "That's better than the alternative, I guess"
  • The people working 3 jobs won't tell you they are busy - they are exhausted
  • Almost everyone is "busy" - but when you ask them what they are busy with, it's self-imposed deadlines and activities
  • Being "busy" is a choice: choosing to do everything possible to fill a human need to feel like you are an intricate part of something bigger
  • The author eventually moved away to the woods and only checks emails if he feels like it
I'm a perfect fit for this "busy trap" - feeling like I need to do everything at all times.  And not to get too psychological on anyone, but I'm guessing this feeling goes back to my generation of the "trophy kids".  Compete and achieve in as much as possible, and you will be rewarded.

I have a fast-paced job, I like to volunteer for charities and for a local networking non-profit, I like to organize parties, write my own blog, write for this blog, oh and run some marathons, too.  So after reading Kreider's article, it was obvious that my "busyness" is all self-inflicted and I do have the choice to slow life down.

But the other side of this is that I do enjoy a fast-paced life - I want it all. Successful working career, friends, a running life, charity efforts, and - I forgot one other thing! I have a husband and puppy too. So what's a Mad PR Girl to do?

After talking this article over with some friends at dinner one night, we decided that when someone asks you how are things going, the best response would be: I'm so productive. If you are busy but it's your choice, that's ok.

So I'm being productive. VERY productive.  But the article is a good lesson. Don't be too busy that you forget what life is about - as the author says, he remembers what buttercups are. And reads for pleasure. And says yes to lunch with a friend.

So even if you are productive in your busy PR life, make sure to stop and smell the flowers. Because as Kreider says, "Life's too short to be busy."

How do you make life slow down?

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