Having read Tim Kreider’s "The ‘Busy’ Trap" in the New York Times’ opinion section, I realized one thing: I have never refused anyone’s offer to go out for drinks or go on trips just because I’m busy. I’ve never used the excuse to turn down an invitation, simply because I’ve never been in that situation before. Ever.
So does that mean I haven’t experienced the true meaning of busy yet? Or do I just have too much free time on my hands and not come to a point that I have to turn down something interesting in order to accomplish a task, project, or job? With the help of a cup of coffee and some introspection music, I realized that “busy” is not in my vocabulary, and that I will never fall in that busy trap that Kreider is talking about.
There’s no such thing as being busy
for someone who’s been working for a long time now. I’ve been working my butt off since college, juggling studies and freelance writing (and sometimes movie editing and graphic design). I was able to finish school, join the (tax paying) workforce, and do the same tasks over and over for several years now. I can’t remember a time turning down someone’s invitation for after-shift drinks, or for a movie on my off days. I guess working at an early age trained me to cram up my schedule in order to squeeze in spontaneous activities with friends and loved ones. It is really hard to turn down an invitation if it’s from a good friend or someone special. I may be swamped with work during office hours, but I don’t use it as a reason to miss out on some of the good things in life.
I am not busy
but I’m still at work, so I have to do something work-related. One thing I’ve learned after several years of working is the importance of getting the job done during work hours. This means not slacking off when you’re expected to finish a project within the day, or procrastinating when you could be accomplishing your deliverables earlier in the week. Most people fall into the busy trap when they set aside work that they could finish today. Try to maintain a good working pace, and that means spreading your tasks evenly during the work week. This reduces the risk of burnout, and also maintains the quality of work you’re expected to deliver.
I have a lot of free time on my hands
but I’m not a bum, so don’t judge (hate) me. In "The ‘Busy’ Trap" Kreider points out that being busy is different from being tired. Those who work back-to-back shifts in hospitals and those who juggle several minimum-wage jobs are usually tired when they say they are “busy.” It’s more of the physical exhaustion aspect of being busy. The opposite, the ones who are living in a self-imposed state of busy-ness, are those who are dealing with the mental stress that they’ve put upon themselves. These are the people who feel that they’re wasting time when they’re not doing any work, simply because they have greater goals or ambitions set.
By doing away with the busy mindset, I am able to free up more time for myself, even if it’s just a couple of hours between work and sleep. I try not to think about work-related concerns when I leave the office, and because of that I am more relaxed around people. I still work eight-hour grinds, but I try not to bring work with me when I step out of the office.
Indeed, it’s hard not to bring work with you even after office hours. VoIP calls can be done anywhere with a decent Internet connection, and video calls using your smartphone means the world can be your meeting room. But that doesn’t mean you should be thinking about work every time. Be a dedicated employee when you’re within the bounds of your employment, but never be too busy to enjoy the good things life has to offer.