Busyness – What Does It Mean?


For a long time people have talked about being busy, being too busy, everyone being too busy and busyness in general. But what do they mean? Or what do they mean should be done?


I saw a video recently that talked about how busyness effects people. It effects our emotions, our schedule, our mental state, our ability to be present, etc. It’s just bad – few people enjoy it and those people are insanbusynesse so they have bigger problems. 😉

I do agree we’re all busy and busyness in general isn’t good. But what does it mean and what can we do?

I think it can be broken-down into categories…

Truly Too Busy

Some people are just trying to do too much. They have 2 jobs, their kids are involved in every type of program and lessons, sports, etc. That’s the obvious busyness. They just need to prioritize quality over quantity, cut some things from the schedule and done.

Not Really Busy

There are some people who say they’re busy but I don’t think they really are. They just take a long time to do anything. Those are the people that say they deal with busyness but if you ask them what they did on a given day it will be peppered with things like “watched a movie”, “took a nap”, got lost in watching online videos, etc.

They’re just busy in 10% of their lives because the other 90% is filler. I don’t mean this is bad (or good), but it’s not the type of busyness I’m talking about.

Tough Busy

This is the one where people are genuinely trying to do a lot and do it well. They want to be involved in a variety of things (too many to do well). They want to be involved in their kids education, they have a job, they want to improve themselves with meaningful hobbies.

For me, I get caught up in this by listening too much to all the people who say things like “Everyone should…” I hear that and my ears perk up. Everyone should what? Everyone should keep a journal, read books, read poetry, talk a walk everyday, write letters, have a garden, learn another language, exercise, travel, eat/cook organic, be involved locally in their community/church/city/etc. – the list goes on. That’s just a sample but you get the picture.

However, I think people that SAY everyone is too busy often mean different things. One person might mean everyone is too busy doing the wrong things. What they mean is – everyone should have more time for A (the thing they think is important) but they are too busy. So they need to stop doing what they’re doing (what they think is important OR are just being thoughtless about) and do what I think is important.

That’s just swapping busyness. So I should exercise less so I can read more? Or should I read less so I can exercise more? Or maybe I should exercise on a treadmill and read at the same time! But I’ll need to cancel my gym membership where I work out w/ friends – so socialize less so I can exercise the same, but read more.

They don’t mean everyone should just stop 15% of what they’re doing… and do nothing.

Maybe they mean people shouldn’t be less busy, but they should be doing better things… again that just means what YOU think is better.

Two Things

I think the only way to decrease busyness is by doing two things.

Fewer Obligations

The core cause of busyness in my life as long as I can remember is obligations. Things I have planned for each week (or two). When you have something planned/obligated to each night of the week, you leave no room for anything else. You always have plans.

Plus, you have to plan around those things or miss them if something does come up. Basically everything outside of the perfectly normal week is a problem.

Lower Expectations

The other thing to do is expect less. Busyness can often be very productive. But maybe instead of having six-pack abs, you can settle for just being in good shape. Instead of reading 12 books a year, it’s 6. Instead of being really good at guitar, you’re ok.

I want to do it all and I recognize that time is limited on this ball of dirt. And while I also understand that quality is better than quantity and less sleep brings everything down, I still want to do as much as I can.

So what can I do? Give up some things and just accept I’ll being great at guitar in Heaven? Or maybe just that it will take me longer to get there (and I won’t get as far)?

Or maybe if I pour deeply into a handful of things, the other things will fade away in the importance realm??? I always remember that Rick Warren said in “The Purpose Driven Life” that a “purpose driven life is a focused life.” Something like that.

The idea was that it wasn’t boring or limited, but focused and intentional. When you feel one thing is truly important and purposeful, suddenly little things you were worried about missing don’t seem so important.

I watch very little TV. It just isn’t important to me. I used to watch what I would consider a ‘normal’ amount of TV. Several shows each week and a few that would ‘must see.’ Nothing wrong with that, but as I found other things more important, TV just became an after thought.

My Plan

So while I’ll try to keep doing things, I want to limit recurring obligations (not that they’re bad, but just keep it to a reasonable amount) to have more free time. And then use that free time “well” (not fill it with filler).

And then be reasonable in my expectations of the things I do. Be both easy on myself and realistic in my expectations of the results.

I’m far from ‘arrived’ in busyness and will continue to work at it. Streamline. Prioritize. Consider things over time – things come and go. Stages of life.


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