The Mystique of Being Busy

There’s a state of being that is often mistaken as a great tool of mystique. The wearer feels needed, important, engaged in a task and distracted from deeper thoughts. To put this cloak of mystique on, one must simply declare they are ‘busy’.
To me, the current usage of the word ‘busy’ doesn’t indicate an activity. People can have a lot to do and not be busy, and people can have very little to do and declare themselves to be busy. Busy-ness is not a statement on volume of work now – busy has become a frame of mind.
The frame of mind is evidenced clearly in work team situations. In a close-knit environment where you generally know each other’s work, the busy person is equipped with a well rehearsed monologue on their crazy schedule and a brightly polished veneer of frantic-ness. All to disguise their lack of contribution. But very quickly, the bullshit grinds on the team.
And this is why the mystique of being busy is one huge fail – it fools no-one. Volume is as evident as the ocean’s tide. Everyone around can see how high the water is and nobody is fooled by the panicked thrashing of arms and legs in the shallows. It’s the fool keeping their face in the water who’s assuming everyone is believing their act.
Successful managers of high volumes float. They’re organised, have support, are honest about the demands on them, maintain their health and stay focussed on the floating. They have an air of capability about them, that kind of atmosphere that makes you want to give them problems to solve. And there’s no swan act – no little legs kicking underneath. Successful managers of high volume don’t channel Dalai Lama at work and them crumble into Homer Simpson at home.
But please, don’t interpret this as a call out to martyrdom of ‘doing it all’. Screw that. Shout your achievements to the rooftops and get rewarded. I just don’t think anyone ever achieves much when they are in the state of mind of being busy. Nobody likes being around busy people. And opportunities generally don’t abound for those that nobody likes being around. There’s no mystique about it, no respectability or attractiveness to it, no fascinating power – the poor busy fool.
And it’s that poor busy fool that yet again bites your head off with “I don’t have time for that right now! Look – I’m not even going to get to you until at least the end of the week.” How much more they could achieve in life if they simply re-phrased their high volume into “I will look into that, are you happy to hear from me within the week?”
Btw, if you’re wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR – here‘s my explanation.

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  • 25 June 2013