Are You Addicted to Busyness?

As a career-minded urban-dwelling American in 2012, I’ve often felt on the fringes for not structuring my life as if my hair is on fire.

I’m one of those people who tries hard not to be busy. I limit my volunteering to passion projects. I say no to a lot of requests from the parent committee at school. My kids are happily underscheduled. Laundry sits unfolded.

I admit it … I preserve as much white space as possible in my week. I value down time. I am a leisure lover.

Rarely do I feel any sympathy when someone grumbles about how busy they are. Especially when they wear it as a badge of honor. I’m important because I’ve got so much going on. 

Whether your affiliation lays with TEAM BUSY or TEAM CHILL, you’ll find something you can relate to in Tim Kreider’s recent New York Times essay, The ‘Busy’ Trap. Like Kreider, I’ve also observed:

“It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve ‘encouraged’ their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety …”

If your busyness is a choice, makes you happy and enhances your quality of life, by all means continue.

But if your busyness stresses you out, impacts your health or leaves you feeling scattered and unfulfilled, then ask yourself:

  • What are my motivations? What inspires me?
  • What exactly am I chasing after?
  • How will this benefit me in the future?
  • What would happen if I didn’t do this?
  • How frequently do I unplug?

Like most things in life, how we choose to spend our time on earth comes down to what really matters. The other stuff can probably wait.


Marta Steele is a Partner at PeopleResults. You can connect with her on Twitter @MartaSteele or through email at