The O of Living Imperfectly: Feeling Oppresively Busy #atozchallenge

horse busy

O Challenge LetterFeeling overwhelmed seems to come with the territory of perfection. So much to do, so little time and the constant need to be busy.

An article in my Sunday paper today proclaims:

Are you too busy? You should be, and you should let people know in a proud but exasperated tone.

The concept of busyness for busyness sake has been on my mind for a while now. Being a professional woman and mother means being surrounded by other busy professional people constantly bemoaning the lack of free time. Are we really all that busy or are we really projecting our fear of being perceive idle. For somewhere along the line busyness has become acquainted with a mark of social status. As my Sunday article says, “If you are busy, you’re important and you’re leading a full and worthy life.”

To be perfect, you must be constantly busy, right?

Busy for busyness sake is a total paradox. Being this sort of busy may make you feel important for a fleeting moment, but denies you time for making deeper connections with those that are likely to be your busy in your older age when busyness tends to stop. Having deeper connections also tends to be more fulfilling than temporarily shortening your to do list by three entries.

There are some people I know who determine their importance by the number of phone calls and emails they receive and yet bemoan the fact that they are always busy. They revel in having a list of tasks to perform that in the end weave a discordant fabric around their self worth. And taken to the extreme, they feel uncomfortable when others are idle. Never waste a single minute,let alone an hour or a day. This need to be perfectly busy seems exhausting and counterproductive.

According to my Sunday article, researchers apparently call this “contaminated time”. This is doing so many different kind of things that baroness of a busy lifethey all blend into each other.It probably won’t surprise you to know that women are generally more susceptible because they have a harder time shutting down the to do list in their heads.

I remember as a mother of young when the golden egg was laid and I found a rare hour or two for myself, the feeling of elation and relief was short lived. Because of the rarity, I used to put myself under enormous pressure to make these hours count, to do something worthwhile. Reading a book or falling asleep in the sun never felt enough, even though that was what my spirit was calling out for.

I’ve since learned that free time is exactly that, free time and should be approached without guilt, regret or judgement. It should be practiced with mindfulness.

Real importance is measured by our positive impacts on others’ lives. Busyness as part of perfectionism is a shield. It’s time we laid it down and gave our self permission to just be. And to be there for ourselves and for those who matter.

About the curtain raiserhttp://raisingthecurtain.netI have spent my life in offices. For now I am putting that behind me and preparing for the second act. Middle age didn't come with acceptable signposts so I am making my own through my writing. A journey shared is more fun than going it solo.

8 thoughts on “The O of Living Imperfectly: Feeling Oppresively Busy #atozchallenge

  1. That is such a good phrase, “contaminated time”. I used to be “too busy” so I could avoid social engagements. Once I understood myself and gave myself permission to be an introvert who politely declines some activities, my alone time is much more enjoyable. This was a very good topic to post. Thank you!

    • Great comment. I understand totally where this comes from. Contaminated time seems to me to be fragments of stuff to do, but not really synthesizing it into a cohesive whole moving forward. The reality is we can be as busy as we chose, but we can never escape our true selves.

      • That is so true. I was mostly successful at knowing and embacing true “me”, except for trying too hard to fit into extrovert’s world when that was so awkward. Hard to feel so misfit in social situations. Now I’m easier on myself and make healthier use of what used to be contamintaed time.

  2. Judy, your last paragraph says it all. What is ironic is technology was suppose to set us free, yet it enslaves us more. If you let it, you can choose to be at work at all times. If you let it, you can choose to see what texts, twitters, Facebook updates, emails have brought to the second of arrival. My strong suggestion is to not let it and curtail or compartmentalize technology sessions and spend it with those who matter most. Great post. BTG

  3. I too like that expression ‘contaminated time’. In training, my coach referred to something similiar – she called it ‘junk miles’ and the perception that some athletes have in thinking that more is better, when in fact less time spent on a higher quality workout has more significant gains.

    It is a sad commentary on our crazy lifestyle that – here I am retired now – I still feel guilty when I’m not ‘accomplishing’ something. Instead of viewing idle time as restorative to our creative and physical energy, we think of it as lazy.

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