Busyness

How ya doing, man? Oh man, been busy… 

What’s going on, you been busy? Yeah buddy, so busy…

You been keepin’ busy? Oh yeah, been really, really busy…

“Busy”… It’s a calling card for success and status, especially here in Nashville. It’s the siren song of survival in the cruel and shallow money trench we call the music business. When someone asks you how you’ve been, an answer of “busy” means “I’m successful! I’m in demand! I am wanted and admired by many!”

In an affluent area like Williamson County, busy is lifestyle success and status as well. Yoga class, tennis lessons, coffee here, lunch there, social events, school meetings, and trips to various salons and the waxing studio. Being busy and running around all day in an SUV by yourself means you’re kicking ass on the scene. “\I have so many things to do, so many places to be!”

We even foist busy on our kids. AP classes, IB programs, extracurricular activities for the sake of the college application, travel soccer, music lessons, and summer camps lest someone sit idle for a moment. For whose benefit? “I’m busy making my kids busy, but they must be busy so that I can be busy!”

Even as we glorify our busyness as a status symbol, we are quick to loathe our busyness as making life miserable. The minute you’re not busy in these parts, however, means your status is in severe jeopardy – so onward we toil, trying to balance a busy life while chasing a fulfilling existence.

A Roadmap

We make schedules, lists, calendars, goals, and timelines in hopes of keeping life on the rails. We take power naps, coffee breaks, and various medicinal accoutrements in hopes of keeping our brain on pace with our busy. Starbucks keeps us running during the day, Ambien shuts our mind off at night. Various forms of drugs and alcohol adjust the ride in between. I’m not judging, I’ve been a willing participant.

Yes I’ll admit, I’m guilty of it all. I’m a confessed workaholic. Lately however, I been searching for (and finding) a cure for busyness. I’ve recognized it as the baseline cause for most everything else – depression, health problems, physical ailments, anxiety, drugs & alcohol, exhaustion, stress, and feeling burned out.

Not busy…

A Cure

In 2018 my goal was to simplify and in 2019 my goal has been to streamline. As a result I’m eliminating what I see as my 4 addictions to busyness:

1 – I Was Afraid To Say “No”: In the music business you rarely turn down a gig. It was amazing the justifications I would use to get to a “yes”. I always had the feeling every offer was, if not my last, my one and only. A day off was unthinkable. I write this in the past tense because once I found my “no” it was like a pressure valve released. As I began saying no to the projects I would not enjoy, “busyness” started to fall away. That “no” eventually led to my exit from the music business. It also served as my first step toward a cure.

2- Busyness Occupying Guilt: I have hard time, even now, sitting and doing nothing – extreme guilt. A day spent relaxing on the patio and just enjoying the sunshine? It’s damn near impossible without doing something that I can justify as “commerce”. I’ve been consumed with busy for so long its absence is a crushing void. Making myself “busy” alleviates the guilt of relaxing or free time. I am getting better at this – maybe 50% there…

3 – Busyness Occupying Silence: Afraid of silence, rest, inward thoughts, or meditation? Busyness in place of reflection can lead you toward breakdown. It allows issues that are causing internal and/or external pain to go unresolved. Been there, done that, and I hope to write more on this later. I am doing much better at this – maybe 75% there…

4 – Fear of Missing Out: FOMO is an ugly stain I’ve thankfully eliminated. It runs in close parallel to comparing myself to others. How busy are they? What are they doing next? What am I missing out on? Social media is the great magnifying glass placed on society that fuels FOMO like a turbo-booster fuels an F1 car. I am fresh out of f*&#$ to give when comparing my lifestyle to anyone else. 100% cured.

Gosh… This Guy is Preachy

Before I get too preachy, I’ll end with 4 tips that helped me eliminate busyness.

1- Stop Talking About Being Busy All The Time – This just makes me feel, you guessed it, busy. When someone asks “How Are You?” I avoid the compulsive “busy” response and make the answer just a touch more relevant.

2- Leisure Time Is Leisure Time – Quality leisure time. I Don’t contaminate the time needed to rest & recharge with email, text messages, and checking in on others by way of social media. I Don’t let guilt contaminate it either. Take the “me time” to enjoy rest, silence, and contemplation. Read, write, meditate, or take a nap in the hammock. We’re wired by societal “must haves” to believe more things in life will make us happier. The world will survive if we take some time to simply “be” for awhile. 

3- Get to “No” – If I can’t rate something a 9 or 10 in terms of value, then it’s a “hard no” for me. That prioritization makes it a guilt-free no as well. This has allowed me to recapture time I spent running around like a wild banshee trying to be all things to all people. Now I try to be much more selective with my commitments. It has led to so much more time in the day it’s amazing.

4. Simplicity – Everything is so damned complicated (he says in his grumpy old man voice). Simplify & streamline – these are the antitheses of “busy”. Figure out what’s not working well and work to make it more efficient. I strive to eliminate things that cost time while offering little to no reward – “time sucks”. This effort combines the 3 from above – less busy, more leisure, and getting there with “no”.

How ya doing, man? I’ve lost 25 pounds and I haven’t had a headache in 4 months. I feel great!

What’s going on, you been busy? Not so much. I’ve really slowed down my pace recently…

You been keepin’ busy? Thankfully no, and I’m planning a very relaxing summer…

Alright, there it is – my treatise on “busyness”. Let’s discuss…

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