Sunday, March 26, 2017

Really busy? Or just plain rude?

When I was younger and working in the highly pressurized advertising industry, most of us would be moaning over mountains of work and impossible deadlines. We would clutch our heads in despair because, yet again, we would have to cancel dinner appointments and family trips. We felt the weight of the world (or some silly ad campaign for a detergent) on our shoulders that needed to get done ASAP. True, a lot of the busyness was self-created because I had dilly-dallied with one thing or another and before I knew it, the deadline had ARRIVED. But now, looking back on my so, so busy life, how much of it was really being busy or just poor management of time?

Now I laugh when I try to make a lunch appointment with a friend and she tells me that “um, I can probably spare 45 minutes at this place near my next meeting.” My response is, “Okaaay, but are you sure you can spare the time?” She’s usually too harassed to notice my snide tone.

I get it. Most of us are really, really busy. Between work, travel to and from work, sorting out household stuff and family commitments, our days are pretty full. And if you have kids, multiply that busy factor by 1000. But I have a sneaky suspicion, because I used to do it myself, that we just like to brag about how busy we are.

So why do we do it? I suppose we presume it makes others think that we’re so busy therefore we have to be doing important stuff, are super successful and leading really interesting lives. Society places a high value on hard work, which in turn results in achievement and success. Weird when you think about it, because I would think successful people should lead more fun-filled leisurely lives.

I am guilty of using the excuse of being busy a lot when I am not bothered to go out and do stuff. I’m a loner and happiest being on my own and doing my own thing. I don’t feel that I can tell people who want to meet up or see me that “um, thanks but I’d rather not see you.” So I use my busyness to say no, I really don’t have time for you.

One of my greatest regrets is telling my mother that I was too busy to pop over, have a meal or just spend some time with her. Yes, I would go over with my son, B, but I would rush through the visit and say I was too busy to spend any length of time in her house. I had work stuff to attend to, B had school stuff to finish, and so we would dash in and out of her house. Now that she’s gone, I would give anything to just have some time with her.

In this fast-paced world, we’re conditioned to think that if someone is not busy, they must be lazy. Being semi-retired now, I have the luxury of time because I no longer have to dash to the office, grab lunch, endure long meetings. Now I’m the one who gets told, “Sorry, I can’t meet up. I’m massively busy.”

Perhaps we’re so caught up in doing stuff, and checking on stuff on our devices, and then attending to other stuff that our devices tell us we need to do. Perhaps that’s what is making us think we’re really busy. My goddaughter told me that recently, she had to take some meetings with an investor who is a self-made successful entrepreneur. During the entire time he spent with her, he didn’t make or take any calls on his mobile phone. He didn’t even look at it. In those couple of hours, he gave her, a young business novice, his full attention. He’s obviously a very busy man, but didn’t use that as an excuse not to be courteous.

I’m sure being organized helps in sorting through our priorities. But we can’t let our busyness detract us from what’s important. I don’t want to head into my senior years regretting that I didn’t spend enough time with people who are important to me. That’s just plain rude.

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