Advice & Features Articles


By Deborah Walsh Dobbs, M.A. / Contributor

The deadline for this article is tomorrow, and I’ve been too busy to write it. At least I’ve done plenty of research on being busy! I did that while pretending to pay attention at a mandatory (boring) grant workshop and then at the tumbling place while my daughter took her classes. I did research while riding my new bicycle (podcasts rock!).  I researched under the glow of my itty bitty book light while my husband slept oh so peacefully beside me. I launched questions about feeling busy to my Facebook friends and then worked on a grant application. When I returned to see the comments and private messages, I was overwhelmed. And then I was sad because so many people are at the end of their ropes, feeling insignificant or carrying burdens no mere mortal can bear.

By the way, busyness has become such a reality for people that it’s actually a word now. To my fellow grammar freaks, I kid you not. (And no, I did not add it to the dictionary!) That doesn’t mean it’s good. Oodles of stats zoom around cyberspace supporting the fact that blowing and going, burning the candle at both ends is bad. It’s so bad that it’s referred to as the new smoking. You might recall a time when smoking was cool, chic, even sexy. What a scam that was! One day, people will look back on our state of busyness and say the same.

Because I know you’re so busy, I’ll limit the examples of busy’s badness to four – the four most important, in my opinion:

Busyness encourages social isolation

This is a biggy because relationships matter above all else. When you’re busy, friends become acquaintances. Acquaintances don’t develop into meaningful relationships. Busyness interferes with your relationships with your kids, your spouse and your extended family. The most important element to a good long life is social relationships. It’s more important to our longevity than remaining smoke free and limiting alcohol intake (see Susan Pinker’s TED Talk).

Busyness is sinful! 

Speaking of relationships, how’s yours with the Alpha & Omega? How are you and the universe doing these days?  Every religion preaches against being busy. Busyness is not on the Eightfold Path. You won’t find it in the Ten Commandments. Our belief systems advise us to remember the Sabbath, observe Shabbat, say our prayers, meditate. As my dear friend (who happens to be a preacher) said, “Even God rested.” If you live for being busy, then your spiritual life, whatever the flavor, will suffer.

Busyness messes with your mind & body

It causes forgetfulness and anxiety. A constant state of busy creates chronic stress, which produces cortisol, which is like poison flowing through your veins. Chronic stress depletes our good brain chemicals, increasing our risk for everything from mood disorders to cancer.

Busyness sends the wrong message to our kids

Let’s not confuse busyness with drive. Busy is messy, scattered and shallow. By being busy, you turn yourself into confetti. If you or your kiddos are doing multiple activities, you’re unlikely to do any of them well. Constant activity and bouncing from one task to another sends the message that our value is earned by doing stuff, that quantity matters more than quality, and that we have no intrinsic value.

Those four examples are the tip of a toxic iceberg. We don’t have to do this any more.

You might wonder, “How does one begin a rebellion against busyness?” Let’s start by getting our minds right and taking a hard look at our calendars.

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