As a part-time working mom of three kids 3 years old and under, it’s probably fair to say that I’ve got a lot more laundry than I have free time. I wholeheartedly know that there will come a day when my brood is grown and I once again partake in leisurely activities (you know, like solo trips to the bathroom) and yearn for the chaos of this phase of life.
Even so, I’ve noted of late how “busy” I often feel, and thus have found myself talking about it a bit too often when asked how I’m doing or what’s new. And, listing all of the things I have to do to a well-intentioned and unwitting acquaintance is starting to feel a bit rote.
Because when it comes to being busy, really, who cares?
Turns out, being busy has come to represent much more than just a full calendar. In fact, busyness is now a mark of status. Last year, the Journal of Consumer Research published a series of studies that concluded that we’re all really impressed by busyness. Somewhere along the way, the mark of wealth got flipped on its head and we no longer see the non-stop yacht life as the status symbol it once was.
Researchers found that the traditional status symbols (think fancy cars, expensive designer clothes, lavish vacations, etc.) made people seem less likeable, and thus they theorized that busyness may be “a potentially more socially acceptable and efficient way for people to signal their social status.” This is called “the busy trap.” Let’s all take pains to avoid it, shall we?
Earlier today I read this Fast Company piece, in which the author reports on the research finding that everyone feels time speeds up as they get older. She writes, “This is less a phenomenon of time, which marches along at the same rate, and more a product of how people interact with time. Youth brings firsts. These are naturally more memorable than normal adult life, in which people wake up and commute to work in the same way they have hundreds of times before. Each day’s meetings seem endless. There is little worth remembering. So the brain doesn’t remember it.”
This. Is. Depressing.
Are our days really so unremarkably repetitive that they’re not even worth remembering? And, yet, we can’t seem to stop talking about how busy we are.
So, what’s to be done? Take your vacation time. Do something each day worth remembering. Turn off your phone. Personally, I’ve been trying to end each day by writing down three things that happened that day for which I’m thankful. Pausing to make note of the small moments dials down the noise of the day.
Join me in making a concerted effort to avoid the pitfalls of the busy trap, and, at the very least, let’s stop talking about how busy we are. After all, if we’ve got the time to keep talking about it, how busy can we really be?