We are busier than ever. It almost goes without saying. We live in a busy world in which our value is oft-measured in productivity, efficiency, work rate, output, yield, GTD, the rat race. We are inundated with meetings and spreadsheets and status updates and rush-hour traffic and tweets and conference calls and travel time and text messages and reports and voicemails and multitasking and all the trappings of a busy life. Go, go, go. Busy, busy, busy.
Busy has become the new social norm. In fact, if you’re not busy, especially in today’s workplace, you’re often thought of as lazy, unproductive, inefficient, a waste of space.
For me, however, busy is a curse word. Each time I hear it, I wince as if nails are traversing a long chalkboard. Worse, I grimace involuntarily whenever someone accuses me of being busy, my facial features contorting and writhing in mock pain. I respond to this ill-informed accusation the same way each time: ”I’m not busy, I’m focused.”
It was Henry David Thoreau who famously said, ““It is not enough to be busy. The question is: what are we busy about?” And if I were to append his quandary, I’d say: It is not enough to be busy. The question is: what are we focused on?
You see, there is a vast delta between being busy and being focused. The former involves the typical tropes of productivity—anything to keep our hands moving, to keep going, to keep the conveyer belt in motion. It is no coincidence that we refer to mundane or asinine tasks as “busywork.” Busywork works great for factories and robots and fascism, but not so great for anyone who’s attempting to do something meaningful with their waking hours.
Being focused, on the other hand… Read more on The Minimalists