Busy is an Excuse to Not Make a Choice

“If we use busy as an excuse for not doing something, what we are really, really saying is that it’s not a priority. It’s not as important to us.” -Debbie Millman

More and more, we find ourselves saying how busy we are or that we are too busy for certain things or certain people. While it is true that most of the hours of our day are filled with tasks, I am not sure that ‘busy’ is the best way to describe the situation we find ourselves in. On any given day, there are more things to do than there are hours to do them. Our to-do lists grows ever longer, not shorter. We claim to be busy because we have no direction because busy and focused are not the same thing.

As much as we scurry to accomplish all that we must, there is something about saying that we are busy that feels dismissive and self-important. Busy is a way of telling people that we do not even have time to explain to them what is going on in our lives because they would not understand. It is a way of saying that aimless motion is more important than the people around us and this is fair to no one involved.

If we are too busy to give attention to those who are right in front of us, if we are too distracted by all that we have on our imaginary plates to be present, if our relationships become shallow and strained because we are spread too thin, and if we take on so much that we become ineffective at everything we are doing, something has got to give. Our health, our relationships, and even the tasks themselves that we have dedicated ourselves to so fervently will suffer and we will suffer in turn. ‘Busy’ is just a way of describing an inability to prioritize and focus on what is important, a way of excusing ourselves from choosing what matters by saying no to that which does not.

 Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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