Tuesday, September 13, 2005


getting busy

a friend of mine recently pointed out a trend she had been noticing as she was out and about in the world. she noticed that nearly every time she asked someone how they were they replied with a short, simple and all too common - "busy", sometimes she got a "busy, but good", but this was less common than the first response.

moreover, she noted that it's not just that "busy" has become a common response it's in many ways become the acceptable response. as though answering the question "how are you" with a simple "good" is no longer really kosher, if you're not busy something's not right.

in the days following this conversation with my friend, i noticed that her observations seemed to be overwhelmingly accurate based on my empirical evidence. i ran into the "busy" response all over, at work, with friends, and sometimes coming out of my own mouth.

it got me thinking what all of this busyness is about. many in my life might say that i have little authority to speak on this subject. i am by all rights an active person. i do a lot in my life and always have. but from my perspective being busy is far different that living a full life.

in thinking about this concept i came across this quote:

The feeling of being hurried is not usually the result of living a full life and having no time. It is on the contrary born of a vague fear that we are wasting our life. When we do not do the one thing we ought to do, we have no time for anything else- we are the busiest people in the world. - Eric Hoffer

this fit in with the perspective that i've adopted about busyness and how to avoid it - do less of the things you don't want to do. for instance, i stopped "running errands" i know that sounds undoable, but i've managed to make it a very rare occasion when i have to set aside a special chunk of time to go to multiple stores to buy stuff. instead, i time my trips to the bank, the grocery store and the drugstore to fit in on my way to or from work - and i buy less stuff. it has reduced my stress considerably.

a few of the blogs i read have talked recently about busyness and putting what is most important first, in hanna's post on the topic she mentioned the 80/20 principle, otherwise known as the pareto principle. here's a sampling from a recent article of what the principle is all about:

The value of the Pareto Principle is that it reminds you to focus on the 20 percent that matters. Of the things you do during your day, only 20 percent really matter. Those 20 percent produce 80 percent of your results. Identify and focus on those things. When the fire drills of the day begin to sap your time, remind yourself of the 20 percent you need to focus on. If something in the schedule has to slip, if something isn't going to get done, make sure it's not part of that 20 percent.

what a great reminder. putting what is most important to us first, not only will help us to feel less busy, it will get us greater results.

so what's on your 20% list? what are the things you want to put first?

and what falls into the 80% category? how can you think in new ways about doing these things less often or not at all?

as always i'd love to hear your thoughts, post them here!

dream big,

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