Who’s Your Anti-Busy-Buddy?
“I wish I could” she said, “I never have time for lunch. It’s crazy-busy here. Always.”
“Oh I hear ya! This is the first time I’ve come up for air in weeks!” I replied, feeling like I had to somehow justify the unfilled gap in my day.
As a culture we wear our overwhelm like a badge of honor, leaving remnants of our busy lives littered in our brief email replies and social media posts, like breadcrumbs, leading us back to…to what? Ourselves? I think not.
This “busyness” thing has been a topic of discussion at my house for the last year, as we’ve noticed a surge in weary-looking friends and participants who are burned-out to the core, yet continue to send emails at 11:30 pm (to which I, admittedly, feel strangely compelled to reply). A connection made – another thing off the list – or, as one of my dearest friends likes to say, “moving the dial forward” – right?
My husband was telling me about an interesting article examining the busy-epidemic in our culture recently, and in my effort to find it I found at least 20 other posts talking about the same thing. The New York Times, Inc., Forbes, HBR, Huffington Post, Fast Company, and a dozen “influencers” on Linkedin and bloggers all agree – as a culture we have hit the height of busyness and it’s not pretty. To sum them all up: “Look at how busy we all are! Look at how much we all hate it! Look at how bad it is for us! But look at how we keep on doing it anyway!”
Ironically, at the same time, the market is flooded with hard evidence of the physiological and psychological price we pay for stress. While scanning the daily posts about “Mindfulness” we nod in agreement, armed with good intentions, and continue to forge ahead as usual thinking we’re somehow impervious. That we can take care of ourselves “later” – assuming that our health, our family, and the relationships that make our businesses (and lives) work, can wait.
We all know it to be a problem and yet, like the big elephant in the room that nobody can ignore, who amongst us will have the courage to do something about it?
Now even as I type this I can feel my anxiety mounting. As if it’s not enough to feel like I’m carrying the world on my shoulders, trying desperately to balance it all yet knowing full-well that I’ll never get everything done – now I get to reprimand myself for my overly-busy-tendencies? Do we really need another reason to beat ourselves up?
The thing is, no matter how good our intentions, no matter how hard we try to manage our schedules, I’m not confident that this is something that we can take-on alone and win, as the cultural-tides of busyness are too strong. Even swimming our hardest we’re bound to be pulled under and dragged out into the sea of overwhelm.
It seems to me that summer camps have the right idea. No respectable summer camp would allow a kid to venture into the water alone, they always have a buddy. Buddies look out for each other. Buddies can get help if one of them is in trouble. Buddies make sure that both make it to shore safely.
I think we all need a buddy. Or two.
Someone to remind us that we don’t have to do it all. Someone to tear us away from our email to have a real life conversation (that’s not in a meeting or has to fit within 140 characters). Someone to reinforce that eating a meal during the day (especially one that’s not consumed in front of a computer) is a good thing. Someone to help us set and maintain our own boundaries. Someone who cares less about the glorification of being busy and more about the glorification of being our best and making an impact.
Which can’t happen if we’re so tapped out that we have nothing great to give.
And isn’t better to deal with what’s real than not?
So today, I encourage you to identify yourself a buddy. Someone who will cheer on your commitment to exercise, or to make it home in time to have dinner with your family, or who will refuse to let you text during lunch, or suggest that you give yourself a much needed break to recharge, or ask you nicely to mute your calls during your off-site-training (that hopefully you weren’t too busy to attend). Somebody who cares enough about you to not buy your excuses and to support you to find a healthy way to get what you need-to-get-done done. Because one day you may wake up to find that the unhealthy way of doing things has taken a bigger toll than you expected.
And no friend would want that to happen. Who’s your anti-busy-buddy?
©OnStage Leadership, 2015
Upcoming sessions of OnStage Leadership: Dallas: April 16th (Full); We will be offering open-enrollment sessions in Dallas and NYC again in the fall of 2015, please notify us if interested in participating or being put on the wait-list.
Kimberly Davis is the Founder/Director of OnStage Leadership, a full-day experiential leadership workshop. Click here to read what people are saying! If you’re interested in more information, or in having Kimberly come speak to your group on topics around Authentic Leadership, Influence, Presence, Engagement, Purpose in the workplace, or Presentation Skills we’d love to hear from you!