Busy Is Not Better

One of the things I’ve noticed with everyone at home is that people seem to feel guilty if they are not ‘busy.’  It apparently has become a cultural expectation that you are ‘busy’ all the time.  The busier you are, the more successful you must be.

The internet is filled these days with things you can do/learn/bake/read/create/draw/make/paint/etc. to make sure that you’re staying busy. You’re made to feel guilty if you aren’t using this ‘time off’ (hah) to somehow improve yourself – whether it’s by learning a new skill, working on your fitness, or whatever.

I find this strange on several levels.

If you look at people who are very wealthy, they’re not generally very busy.  Some are, of course, but most aren’t.  “Deals get made on the golf course,” you’ll hear.  As if the deal they are supposedly working on somehow cancels out the fact that they are golfing, not working. 

I think we can all agree that meetings are some of the least productive things you can do with your time.  But again, wealthy people (like CEOs) expect you to believe that they are busy (and thus important) because their days are filled with meetings.

Also, busy does not equal productive.  You can be very busy and accomplish nothing.  You can be less busy and still be productive.  Here’s a little secret:

It’s okay if you aren’t busy every minute of every day.

The world won’t end.  It just means that you need to slow down sometimes and recharge.  Vacations are a thing for a reason.

Although, now that I think about it, most people are encouraged NOT to take vacations (at least in my experience).  You need to be busy, busy, busy and putting your time and effort in at your job.  (This may not be true everywhere – I happen to live the US, and that is very much the culture here.)  In fact, most people only get two weeks of vacation a year, and that’s if you have a very good job.  In today’s gig economy, most jobs don’t offer benefits like vacation.  You can take a vacation, but then you don’t get paid – something a lot of people can’t afford.

I have made a conscious effort to keep myself occupied, because depression can sneak up on me if I don’t.  But it’s okay if some days you just want to lay on the couch and read.  Or lay on the couch and do nothing.  All the things on your to-do list will still be there later.  It’s okay to not be busy.

Motivation Vacation

FailLife has been kicking my butt lately.  I’ve got a lot of things going on (I know, who doesn’t?) and I am not using my time effectively.

I’m not sure when I got lazy, but I just don’t seem to be as productive as I used to be.  10 years ago I got a lot more accomplished in a day than I do now.  I mean, yes, I’m 10 years older (and tireder!) but I still need to get things done.  My motivation has taken a vacation, though.

Another facet of my OCD is that I like routines.  Routines keep me busy and feeling balanced.  So on days that I don’t have a routine, or that I don’t really have to follow one, I find myself doing a lot of nothing.  Which can be nice, but then I’m left feeling guilty because I didn’t get all the things I wanted to done.

Most of the things I want to accomplish are personal goals, so I don’t have someone in my ear or over my shoulder making sure I meet deadlines.  With my willpower heading out for summer vacation early, my guilt is eating at me lately.

So I’m trying something new.  Go me!  I’ve long subscribed to the theory that you can do anything for 15 minutes.  Can’t find the motivation to (insert task here)?  Just do it 15 minutes at a time.  What I usually discover is that my dread of whatever the task is has made it seem overwhelming and hugely time-consuming, when in fact, it probably doesn’t take much more than the 15 minutes I’ve committed.

Like this blog post, for instance.  I wrote several posts and scheduled them ahead of time, so my self-imposed deadlines for writing more came and went without any new posts.  But once I sat down to write, it actually went pretty quickly.

I’m still trying to figure out this whole online business thing (and failing), but life is providing motivation.  Bills don’t pay themselves and money doesn’t grow on trees (more’s the pity), so I’m gonna have to buckle down and get busy.  Let’s hope my willpower returns from vacation soon!