Rethinking the Value of Busy-ness

In Western culture, we value productivity. We think quite highly of the person who uses their incredible energy to get something done. And we really, really frown upon laziness.

This is all good. But the way we’ve applied it to our own lives is not.

In order to not appear lazy, we’ve all become very busy. We work extra hours, volunteer for extra projects, take on numerous leadership roles. We sign our kids up for every activity that peaks their interest, and drive them around town, after hours. We volunteer and offer to help out whenever someone asks us to. If we have any free time, we spend it trying desperately to get some housework done.

And we’re stressed. We don’t have time for leisure activities, such as entertaining or pursuing our hobbies. We say, “I need to learn to say ‘no,'” or “I need to get my life in balance.”

But we don’t mean it.

Because the busy life is something that our culture values. Stress is stylish. If we’re busy, it means that we’re doing something meaningful. That our time here is not a waste.

But does it really?

We live intentionally, because we realize that every choice we make is a trade-off. We pare down on possessions, because we realize that when we own too much–even if they are all good things—our lives become so cluttered that we can’t enjoy any of them. So it is with time.

So many times, we have been involved in fun, meaningful activities with friends. These get-togethers always stopped, eventually, because we got too busy. We really need to think: are the activities we are choosing to use, to fill up our time, more important than cultivating friendships?

I’ve met a lot of people who want to pursue their passions. They want to write, possibly, or do some adventuring of their own, but they don’t have time. In reality, we make trade-offs. There is time. We just need to decide what is more valuable–our current obligations or spending time developing skills that really can give us something to contribute to the world.

Simple living is about quality over quantity. Since I’ve left Facebook, I’ve had more in-depth conversations with fewer people. Since I’ve pared down my schedule and–yes–I do say “no,” often, I’ve been able to focus my efforts on the activities that I have chosen, rather than do a poor job trying to do everything.

It takes courage to live this way. Living intentionally with time is more counter-cultural than living simply with possessions. But we need to do it anyway.

8 thoughts on “Rethinking the Value of Busy-ness

  1. I think you hit on a great point that in our culture we feel like downtime or personal time is laziness. But really this is a necessary part of relaxation that allows us to energize and be creative!

  2. “Simple living is about quality over quantity.”

    You nailed it right there. I am currently visiting family for the holiday week. I see them living the way that I used to and it is sad. Too busy to think during the week. Not really present, head somewhere else thinking about what needs to be done before work tomorrow, etc….How do you convince them that the rat race is a loosing game? You don’t need 2 new cars, a big house, etc…Downsize, simplify, and enjoy your life.



  3. Busyness can spiral out of control if you are not careful and stress can catch up with you in unexpected ways. This was my life two years ago. What I craved more than anything was time: for my family, friends and myself. I had to declutter and downsize first in order to have more time. Now I have achieved more time in my life and I am so much happier. I value time over possessions and status. It is possible. A great post Bethany xo

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