“Busy” is the new “Fine”

“Those who are wise won’t be busy, and those who are too busy can’t be wise.” ― Lin Yutang

The holiday season is upon us, whether we like it or not. No sooner does Dunkin’ release all things Pumpkin Spice, and millions of people start losing their ever-lovin’ mind by beginning the planning process for Thanksgiving and all the wintertime holidays. I’m confused by this, though. Isn’t this a season where we should be slowing down, thinking about what is really important in our lives, taking time off work and well…just relaxing?

But, nope. I predict – even amidst this COVID crap (which is what I’ve started calling it) I’m going to hear the words “I’m so busy” more than I have for the entire year from some of y’all. It is almost as though people wear “I’m So Busy” as a badge of honor. To me “I’m So Busy” is akin to bondage (and not the fun kind). In fact, Jeff Shinagbarger states that “busy” is the new “fine”. I love what he says: “If time is money, then I really am broke.”

So, how are you? Busy?

“It was in this video from Jeff Shinabarger that I first heard the phrase, “‘Busy’ has become the new ‘Fine’.” As in, when you ask somebody how they were doing, they used to answer, “Fine.” But nowadays, everybody answers, “Busy.” – Josh Becker

Since I’ve already mentioned COVID, I think I’m going to start here. COVID has done a lot for me, personally, in terms of growth. And when I say “COVID” I’m not talking about a disease…I’m describing a ‘season’. Yes – I miss going to the movies and I hate wearing my mask in public because it fucks with my lipstick (But…I wear it because I’m a good human and don’t want other people to get sick and vice versa. So there.) But, also, to its credit, COVID has also allowed me permission to change my priorities and to settle down a little.

I realize now that the first part of the season of COVID created a big hot mess. Trying to work from home while also making sure my son passed the first grade was stressful. And it screwed up my brain chemicals and my anxiety was at a red-level flag warning. But now…months in…I kinda like that I don’t have to be busy if I don’t want to. I might have had this permission all along, but I never gave it to myself. So…um…”Thanks, COVID”??? I realized one day in the middle of August that I just didn’t have to be so damn busy if I didn’t want to. It seems ridiculous in this moment to say that…but I just never really got the memo before that I had the ability to just say “no”.

So how do I stop this glorification of busy? Well, I’m about to tell you. And, please, I by all means do not have my shit together entirely, but I have learned some things and I hope they help you.

Here goes…

1) Get grounded. I don’t know what “get grounded” means to you – maybe its a short hike in the woods, a run beside the ocean’s coast, a picnic in the park. For me, I like to hop in my car and head east to the little town I grew up. Sometime I just drive country roads remembering a simpler time. Sometimes I pack a light lunch (that’s um, a bag of Fritos), I make sure my son’s tablet is charged and his headphones are in the car and we take a little break near “Bell Ford” – a creek in the middle of Amish country.

2) Unplug. I am becoming increasingly aware of how social media sites (and by this, I really mean Facebook) unnerve and unground me. If I want to start my day pissed off, I usually visit Facebook first thing in the morning (Kidding. I don’t normally decide to start my day in a bad mood. But…IF I DID…)The television blasts 30 second reminders of how awful my life is because I don’t own this or that. My email box is full of sales and specials from stores I have no need to visit. And lastly, my work email…ugh. Don’t even get me started about the “seemingly-urgent-truly-non-urgent” requests I get at all hours of the day and night.

3) Cook something. I don’t normally recommend cooking as a way of not being busy, but I’m not talking gourmet here. I don’t even like to cook – so there’s that. But…if I need a little creative grounding time, I head straight to my “This Banana Bread Kicks Ass” recipe. While I smell the bread baking, I sip some coffee…and close my eyes for a few minutes.

If you didn’t click the link to Jeff’s wonderful video in the first paragraph (hint, hint…) here are some great take aways:

Find peace in the quiet.
Remember what it means to ‘be’ instead of ‘do’.
Break the seemingly endless pattern of consumption.
Spend less time reacting to what is ‘urgent’ and more time returning to what is ‘important’.

I write to help you enjoy a more simple life. I’m not perfect, but I know how important it is to relax. I know how important it is to make your values a priority. I know how important it is to stop reacting to things that are not your issue. I hope you can find time this week to stop the glorification of busy. As always, I’m leaving you with a sweet little song and I ask you these questions:

How has COVID reprioritized your life? What are some things that have slipped from your “to do” list permanently? How has it changed you?


If you need more help on becoming more ‘unbusy’, check out Joshua’s list.