Please, slow down!

We live in a culture that glamourizes and glorifies being busy and living an accelerated daily life. Every single day our American culture reminds us in some way that being busy is a badge of honor and that if we want to experience “success”, constant productivity is the key. This cultural value originated in large part during the Industrial Revolution when men and women could not compete with the higher efficiency of machines and were quickly replaced. And with more women entering the workforce, time to take care of the household became more scarce and eat away at leisure time. Today, as book and magazine covers read “achieve greatness” or “build better habits” we are still enticed to learn how to create routines that maximize every second of our days.

When we miss an event or can’t reply to a text right away, we almost automatically respond with “sorry, I was busy.” We say this, in part, because we know that busy is the one state everyone else can relate to, and in part to avoid problems or more responsibility. We know that others will understand our busyness- after all, we are all busy people. However, being busy has become such commonplace that we now use it to mean our regular daily lives, not actually being busy with an activity or project.

Busyness = Productivity

One of the biggest myths of busyness is that it means productivity. Our obsession with being busy leads us to create more work for ourselves by searching for the next project or filling our time with tasks that do not add value to our daily lives instead of enjoying some idle time. In turn, we feel like we do a lot but do not actually accomplish that much. The problem is that in order to be productive we need more than time: we also need good mental capacity, physical energy, and intentionality.

Successful people are always busy, working hard.

We all want to be successful in one way or another, but does success have to look the same across the board? When we consider what it means to be successful we also have to take into account individual differences because no two people may define success in the same way. The constant need for “doing” something take away our ability to “be”- be with ourselves, our thoughts, our imagination. Isaac Newton would not have been able to develop the law of gravitation if he had not taken the time to sit under the apple tree and contemplate the gardens.

How being overly productive can impact you

It seems counterintuitive to many - the idea that slowing down can get you farther in life. So, we continue staying as productive as possible until it leads to feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Eventually, our constant busyness takes a toll on our mental, emotional, and physical health. Like the hare who was overly concerned with doing too much rather than focusing on the path, you may also have trouble crossing your finish line.