How To Stop Being Busy

I walked into a Starbucks the other day to meet a friend. All the holiday swag was displayed in red boxes and holiday menus were up featuring gingerbread and peppermint everything. It was 2:00 in the afternoon, and it wasn’t too busy, so I was a little surprised by all the commotion behind the counter.

There were 7 people bustling around looking busy. Two were handling the drive-through, it looked like a couple were being trained, others were cleaning, stocking, and organizing.

The strange part was that it took a really long time to get my chai latte. There were several people waiting by the pick-up counter for their drinks, and it wasn’t clear for a while if anyone was even making them.

My friend ended up waiting by the cash register for a long time before anyone even came to take her order.

Something was off here.

A lot of stuff was happening, but not the one thing the business is actually supposed to do – serve coffee drinks to its customers!

All the Starbucks employees were busy, but none of them were paying attention to the bigger picture.

Busy As A Way Of Being

In our culture, we talk about being busy a lot. It’s often part of our answer to the question, “How are you?”

“Oh, good but busy. I have a lot of stuff going on.”

Right? You hear it all the time. Maybe you even say it yourself.

I have a problem with this.

First of all, busy isn’t how you ARE. When you say “I’m busy,” it doesn’t actually say anything about you. Rather it focuses on the stuff you are DOing. It’s actually a sort of cover-up for being stressed, or tired, or overwhelmed, or out of balance.

The thing is, we all know that!

It’s like “busy” is a code word that draws empathy from another person, because we’ve all been there. BEING busy means you are so wrapped up in the stuff you are doing, that you aren’t really being anything.

Busy As An Excuse

People also use it as an excuse.

When asked, “Did you do X?” People will say, “No, I’ve been really busy.”

In my world, one of the most common reasons that people don’t keep up with creating content is because they are busy.

But does that mean you chose to accomplish something else? Do you have something to show for the things you’ve been doing? Or have you just been busy?

Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean that you are accomplishing anything. In fact, it seems more like you are running in circles without really getting anywhere. It conjures an image of chaos and disorganization – like the scene behind the Starbucks counter.

What Else Can You Be?

We all have a lot going on. And with the holidays coming up, it’s even more prevalent. There are about to be a bunch of things added to your calendar and your list of things to do.

A lot of people complain about being busy at this time of year. Is that really how you want to experience your holidays?

Now, I can’t magically shrink your to-do list. But just because you have a lot going on, doesn’t mean you have to BE BUSY.

You could choose to be something else… like present, or focused, or connected to people rather than to your to-dos.

Even in the midst of a lot of things going on, you don’t have to be busy. In fact I recommend that you try to banish that word from your vocabulary. And ask yourself, “What do I really want to BE?”

That choice is yours.

What do you think? Are you a “busy” person? How will you shift your way of being or the words you use in the midst of a “busy” world? Let me know in a comment below.