Earlier this week I was sent this rather brilliant article on busyness. Although published eight years ago, it could just have easily been written last week as I suspect it captures how many of us feel in the midst of the pandemic – we are just too busy.
Busyness seems to have become a ‘thing’. Over the last few months, I think almost every time I have asked a colleague / friend / family member: ‘how are you?’ the immediate response has been: ‘busy!!’
This is not to say that busyness is wrong. And it’s certainly true that being busy is not the same for everyone. Doctors, nurses and other key workers have probably never been busier in their lives. Nor those who are juggling multiple jobs to keep their heads above water.
While some of us are undoubtedly very busy, or feel very busy, there is a sense that being busy has become a badge of honour – I am busy, therefore I am of value. And of course, we all know that idleness is a sin – the devil makes work for idle hands, right?
Ironically, we are all busier than ever at a time when the parameters of our day-to-day lives are narrowing. When we are not super busy at work we are socialising (if you can call video calls socialising), looking after children, cooking, learning a new skill, doing hobbies. Anything but sitting, relaxing, contemplating. In other words, regenerating.
It seems self-evident that a failure to prioritise downtime and our mental wellbeing, risks increased stress, anxiety and burnout that will ultimately harm us in both our personal and professional lives.
Employers can certainly do their bit here by promoting the importance of a good work / life balance for all their employees, as well as providing the environment, tools and support to make it happen.
I think that Tim Kreider sums it up nicely in his article: “The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole….it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”
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