Did you have a busy year? How about today? Is today a busy one for you? And Christmas day, I bet that’s going to be busy, right? Have you got a busy holiday planned?

The very notion of a busy holiday is ironic in itself. 

By definition a holiday is “an extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home or in travelling.”

By definition busy is “having a great deal to do.”

I guess this is vague enough to allow for busy. Busy leisure time. Busy recreation time. But when busy becomes laborious, you’re no longer on a holiday. 

Is it really any wonder that so many people come back from holiday or even after a weekend, only to report their more tired and worn out the before they left. 

Busy has become a subtle boast about our status within society and the importance of our lives. If we’re busy, then we must be doing good things. At some point, the ‘hustle hard’ memes on Instagram have caused us to view ‘busy’ as a virtue. 

A friend asks how I’ve been. I automatically respond “yeah, good man. Really busy, but its good.” 

A client asks me how business is. I blurt out “Oh! so busy. Better than the opposite though”. 

When is your next free weekend? When do you next have a Saturday and a Sunday where you have absolutely nothing scheduled. I can’t easily tell you mine. 

The reality is, busy is self inflicted state. At some point the hustlers and the hard workers have made us feel so worthless if we’re not busy, that being busy is now a prerequisite to success. 

Today I chose not to be busy. 

We get everything we want quickly. Emails were designed to help people communicate effectively in a considered and well thought out manner. Instead, we’ve come to expect an almost immediate response that we can file away then use as a piece of evidence against that person if something goes wrong. 

If we’re busy all the time then we rarely take notice of the colour of the sky. It’s hard to have a real conversation. It’s hard to listen to great music - you might have it on, but you’d better be cleaning the house or doing some washing at the same time. 

When is the last time you put on some headphones and listened to an entire album. You could sit there doing nothing else, other than listening to the work the artists has put together for you. It would only take 40-50 minutes and you’d hear things you’ve never heard before. 

But who has time for that, right?

The catalyst for this article was my race to the end of the year. I’ve been procrastinating tasks so I can consider myself busy. Then I can tell people I’m busy. Then they’ll think I’m doing good things. 

But I know I do my best work when I’m not busy. I can get a lot done when I am busy. But my best work always happens during periods of time when I decide not to be busy. 

So here’s my proposal. Instead of using busy as a default boast of virtue, let’s use busy only when we need it. Busy is a tool. It’s a period whereby you decide to get the utilitarian tasks of life completed. But when you decide not to be busy, don’t be. 

If you want to run a marathon, your training shouldn’t consist of 16 hours per day of constant running. You’d burn yourself out. You should train when it’s time to train. 

Be busy when it’s time to be busy. Stop burning yourself out. 

Image: @aimeedodgephotography