The Art of Being Busy

Let me paint you a little picture. You’re chatting with a girlfriend, jumping from tall tale to hot goss seamlessly as you do, and she mentions a recent dentist appointment, or a Tweet she giggled at last week, or even a new vintage store she stumbled upon last Saturday while out for stroll. Depending on the type of person you are, you may answer the following to any of those aforementioned scenarios, “oh. I just don’t have the time for that”. No matter which category you find yourself in, you can’t deny that you’ve uttered a form of this sentence more than once in your life.

I often find myself excusing behavior for a lack of time, only to later realize it may not necessarily be true. Yes, some of us are busier than others, we work long hours, engage in one too many social occasion, have weekly commitments we can’t shake, all the while attempting to maintain a home, a family, a beauty regimen, a healthy diet and sleep schedule – and let’s not forget, some semblance of sanity. But, here’s the real question. Who decides how you spend your time? As much as you’d like to argue that it’s your boss, your pushy friend, your parent, spouse or even your pet (dog walking is time consuming, yes?) – the answer is you. Time is a choice, not a command.

Thanks to blogger Joanna Goddard, I recently read this article in the New York Times about writer Laura Vanderkam’s experiment with her own time. As a self-proclaimed “too busy for me time” person, she decided to take note of how she spent her time each day, and I just love what she discovered:

I soon realized I’d been lying to myself about where the time was going. What I thought was a 60-hour workweek wasn’t even close. I would have guessed I spent hours doing dishes when in fact I spent minutes. I spent long stretches of time lost on the Internet or puttering around the house, unsure exactly what I was doing.

Can you relate? I know I can. Instead of going on to say that we’re all liars and we must rethink the way we’re living our lives, Laura gives one easy and brilliant solution to the problem… Whenever you catch yourself thinking “where does she find the time” or outright vocalizing “I’m too busy for that”, change your wording to “that’s not my priority”. It may shock you to learn what those priorities really are. “I’m too busy to go to the doctors” becomes “my health is not a priority”. How do you feel about that? I’d fancy a guess that you’re not pleased. As a Twitter lover, I hear people say to me time and time again that they don’t have the hours to spend formulating 140 character synopses a dozen times a day. Fine, social media is not your priority. But just like texting, it’s something you’d definitely find the time for should that change.

Now that you’re able to easily rethink the time you decide to invest in certain activities, you should start asking yourself why. When you realize that clean clothing, healthy cooking and quick phone calls to family are not on your priority list, it becomes easier to fit them in and revolutionize your daily decision making.

If you need a more concrete means of time metamorphosis, you should begin to pay attention to your routine. When you’re on public transit, are you staring into space most of the time? Do you watch TV every night with dinner? How long do you spend deciding what to wear? How many hours do you devote to Facebook? The daily tally may shock you, and I’m sure you can guess what I’m going to say next – paying attention to your time will allow you to stop. Reboot. And possibly fit in those very things you’re “too busy” for. Make a phone call while you’re walking/transiting to work, skip a rerun of Friends for the gym, say no to a social event just to get your things in order, or even to take a nap and get a mani (the “I have no me time” is a classic one, after all).

Truth be told, we learn something new everyday, and sometimes the best lesson of all is one you learn about yourself. Living your life day-to-day without stopping to think about your schedule and your top priorities certainly isn’t healthy, and sometimes a little at-home soul-searching goes a very long way. And if you’re too busy for that, well then, in a nutshell, I’d say you’re too far gone, my friend.

3 Comments

  1. Dee says:

    Guilty! Had I stuck to my intended task of seasoning my wardrobe this weekend, I would have spent less time getting out the door this morning!!!

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