I’m not busy.

Written by Jennifer Griggs

When our first child was born late one November, our lives of course changed.

Of love and necessity, our family was reorganized around its smallest member. Other things were put aside, reshuffled, or abandoned forever. We thought we had been busy when, in fact, we hadn’t been. 

So we decided that we would no longer call ourselves busy, knowing that, in the future, things would continue to change in ways expected and unexpected.

But yet I can find myself being crushed under a to-do list of my own making. And worse, the people around me still think of me as busy. I recently found out that, at work, people I am devoted to hesitate to ask for things from me because I am perceived as busy. How does this happen? My guess is that I am not paying attention to them. I also know that I am not giving enough to what is truly important. 

Plenty has been written about the increase in leisure time over recent years, to why we keep busy, to the perils of multitasking, to time confetti. I’ve read articles and books about time management, attention management, increasing efficiency, and the right amount of busy.

The Bottom Line

When I’m too busy, I am not focused on the most important things. I am in a whirl of activity, physical or digital, but I am not doing what I should be doing. And equally important, I am doing things I should not be doing. I’m either taking things away from people–their purpose, growth, or joy, or doing things that no one should be doing. The clutter of things that demand dusting, sorting, and ultimately donating distract from the touchstones of life. Those experiences that mean we live a life full of joy, love, and connection to others and to our work.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.”

From Annie Dillard‘s The Writing Life

It’s not enough to stop using the word busy. This Christmas season, I am now choosing to pick, each hour, each day, each week what is essential, what is in line with my purpose. The to-do list now begins with the desired outcome of the week, and I design my life around my purpose.