Do you know the feeling of those days where nothing really passes through the mind? A sort of empty space without much running through it? After a long time advocating for the usefulness of being busy, I have finally learnt to love those moments! I am now more and more convinced that life could be highly improved if we were capable of letting some emptiness in our lives.
We live in a society that emphasises business.
Have you ever used the word “I am busy” to get out of any situation? Loads of people use it in many contexts and it works all the time. Nobody would question your being busy. On the contrary, you can use it to get out of a conversation, to avoid going to a friend’s improv, or to justify your desire to spend the evening by yourself.
But what is the hype beyond this business?
Perhaps being busy provides a sense of justification and indulgence, something to look at when you feel uncomfortable about an issue. Or perhaps being busy gives a sense of fulfilment when you look back at how you used your time at the end of the day. In any case, I believe the common idea of busy-ness is overrated.
So, why do people want to be busy? To understand that I had a look around.
I have a good number of friends and relatives around me who struggle with the idea of not being busy. All of them are great people and achievers in their own way. Yet they all struggle with letting go.
In the small sample of human examples I could get the ways of being busy vary. The most common ones include overworking, sorting out their apartment too much, and heading to the gym whenever a free slot in the agenda arises. I do not know the deep reasons why the need to feel busy, yet I can testify that in the moments we spent together when inactivity suddenly rose, the tension coming from not being busy was palpable. Something had to be done to restore busy-ness.
In my life time I had the privilege to be in contact with an absolute guru of not feeling guilty for not being busy: my girlfriend.
Before knowing her I could certainly include myself in the category of busy-ness lovers. Then, my newly found guru enlightened me to the reality that busy-ness is often just plain distraction. A plain excuse to run away from achieving something valuable.
What I have learnt from her is that not being always busy does not necessarily kill productivity, it just shifts it to what is more valuable for us. Perhaps less gets done, I admit it, but what we focus on would probably matter more if we are not afraid of having empty time.
Here are some examples of where I have found taking your time to be the most valuable.
Deciding what to do in your life. Being busy might sound productive in the immediate, but it has devastating effects in the long-run. It is impossible to clearly imagine your future life, if you do not allow yourself with enough easy time to clearly see it. Also, if you feel the need to be constantly busy you would probably be driven by the need to fulfil external expectations. Bad idea.
Writing. Taking time is fundamental for the writing process. I do not how you feel, but for me it is completely impossible to do some decent writing when being busy. In that mental space my creativity simply goes away when I do not let time for the unconscious to develop stories and ideas.
Relationships. I have recently read that one of the best thing we could to to improve our relationship with somebody is to give them our full attention. Giving attention to others is the best way to make them feel valuable. Attention, of course, require time.
Connection. Taking time is also a fundamental healing process. Without taking time out our brains do not have the chance to review all they have been up to recently. Yet, there is also a deeper reason. When we take time to be by ourselves we do not base our value on something we are doing. We allow for an exception to the rule of judging ourselves based on our output. “What have you done today? Nothing, and it felt wonderful!”
So, my friends. As you can see there is plenty to gain from letting busy-ness go.
Have you got any example where doing less has improved your life or boosted your creative work?
Have fun enjoying your time!