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‘Tis the season to be busy

November 20, 2009

People are busy. Busy. Busy. Busy. And as the holiday season approaches, I can feel the fluster of busyness all around me. E-mails from friends arrive with notes that read:

“Love to do lunch on Wednesday, but I have to swing by the school to drop off Suzie’s tuba for practice, run out and pick up the gifts from Best Buy that I ordered online last week, and get my hair colored. Then I have to pick up the turkey, get my teeth whitened, finish painting the hallway, bake 4 dozen cookies, throw in a load of towels, hang a few pictures, clean the bathroom, and finish my thesis. What are you up do?”

We’re always busy, it seems. Whether we work in or outside the house, have or don’t have children, married or single. We’re busy. Sometimes, just too busy. How often do you hear, “I’m just too busy to do …” or “Love to, but I’m just too busy.

Edward M. Hallowell, a psychiatrist and author of “CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap” writes about how he knew he had crossed into the dark side from busy to crazy busy when he got mad at a rotary phone while staying at a vacation house.

Unable to use a cellphone, he was driven nuts waiting for the dial to return to start.  Then calming himself, he timed how long the dialing actually took: 11 seconds.

“What a fool I had become,” he writes. “I had become a man in a hurry even when I had no need to hurry.”

According to Dr. Hallowell, there are many overlapping reasons we all fall into the trap of being overly busy.

Here are a few:

  • It is so easy with cellphones and BlackBerrys a touch away.
  • It is a kind of high.
  • We’re afraid we’ll be left out if we slow down.

And not only are we always busy, we don’t know how NOT be busy. To be doing absolutely nothing. To “stop and smell the roses.” To just sit and look at the sky. To do that would mean we aren’t doing something we “have” to get done. We feel guilty if we’re not constantly DOING something.

This year, during this, the busiest time of the year, I’m going to stop. Sit. Think. Breathe. Enjoy the moment. And I think I might schedule my “non-busy” moment about the time the remains of Thanksgiving dinner need to be cleared away.

This could be a new tradition… doing nothing. Going nowhere. I’m in.


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