Career hustle, Hustle for happiness

Busy and exhausted: the new status symbols

Photo credit: Samuel Zeller

The phone chimes, the number of unread emails continues to creep higher, and all it takes is for you to pick up the phone or log into your email *just to check* what’s happening. Before you know it, hours have gone by and your Saturday has been consumes by tasks, replies and BBMs (yes, I work somewhere that still uses Blackberries 🙈). But it’s okay, because you were too busy to have noticed the beauty that was brewing for you outside. And frankly, it couldn’t wait.

It has become a familiar refrain: we live in an increasingly connected world that blurs the hours of 9-5 and makes the demands of Monday to Friday bleed into the weekend. We are more readily available than we have ever been. We have faster, and more, access to information. I think this has lured us into a false sense of importance and also a false sense of control.

I am all for working hard and am quite comfortable putting in 12 hour days when it’s necessary. But about a year ago I found myself relying on the ole busy excuse – I was actually busy after all. But I was soooooo busy. All the time. About two years earlier, due to extenuating circumstances, I had experienced a year where I was truly, ridiculously busy in both my personal life and professional life (more on that later) so I was left wondering, “how am I still so busy, all the time?” The truth? I wasn’t.

Photo credit: Juliette Leufke

Being busy, and ultimately exhausted as a result of our careers, has become a badge of honour. People can’t bother you because you’re so busy. You must be really important since you’re exhausted from working all the time. You don’t need to deal with issues brewing in your personal life because ain’t nobody got time for that.

We use also the “busy” excuse to skip out on promises to ourselves. You don’t have time to make a healthy meal, so you’ll grab something on the way (or worse, skip breakfast – let’s get this out of the way here and now, I love breakfast, in all forms). Planning on hitting the gym or heading out for a run? Not today, you’ve got a deadline.

Why is it that we’re sooooo willing to break the promises we’ve made to ourselves for the sake of work? Why are we so ready and willing to sacrifice self-care (and sleep!)? It doesn’t make us more productive – in fact, Arianna Huffington preaches the importance of sleep in becoming successful.

A challenge I set for myself last year was to stop saying I was “sooooo busy” unless I was truly busy. Language is powerful and pausing before responding to think about how I was doing allowed me to connect with how I was actually feeling (something I realized I had been trying to avoid under the guise of being busy). It took work, but this small act helped me reconnect with what it truly means to be busy.

Interested in reading more about this topic? Check out these readings:

Exhaustion is not a status symbol | You are not as busy as you say you are | The disease of being busy

Some food for thought – let me know how you cope with being busy in the comments below:

  • Does being being busy make us more productive or less?
  • Do you wear exhaustion as a status symbol? Why or why not? Are you even aware you’re doing it?
  • How do you feel being busy impacts your life?
  • Of course being busy is inevitable, but do you tend to feel like you’re always busy or are you pretty good at maintaining the natural ebb and flow?
  • Are we wasting time talking about how busy we are, when we should just be putting our heads down and getting through?
    • What kind of impact does it have on us personally to always be busy (may not apply for everyone)?
  • Are we using being busy to avoid certain things (in life, at work etc)?
  • How do you ensure you are decompressing, how do you decompress and how do you integrate this into your schedule?
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  • Reply Alexandra February 23, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    I’m consciously trying not to wear exhaustion as a status symbol 🙂 Great post!

    • Reply Bee February 25, 2017 at 8:51 am

      That’s great to hear – I know it’s not always easy to do.
      Thanks for reading!

  • Reply Eyre February 23, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    What began as an attempt to break through the glass ceiling quickly morphed into a mindset of having to do it all, incredibly well, at the same time. Impossible! Modern technology is not our friend either, which you have so cleverly identified in this terrific article. Well done Bee.

    • Reply Bee February 25, 2017 at 8:51 am

      Thanks Eyre!

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