Note To Self: It's Time To Stop Glorifying Busyness

24 Jun 2020

Here’s something I’ve not missed during lockdown: competitive busyness. The glorification of long office hours, insane commutes, rammed social lives. Everyone talking about how super busy their lives were. When did we turn busyness into a competition? When did busy start equalling important and worthy, and rest equal unimportant and dull?

It was nice when it stopped; a small perk to an otherwise shit situation. When we were all forced to stay at home, the playing field levelled out. None of us were busy. It was the NHS workers and the supermarket staff who kept the country afloat when a crisis hit, not the rest of us. Makes you wonder why we were flapping about like a bunch of pigeons, puffed up in our busyness. 

Here’s a question: how many times have you or someone you know said ‘busy?’ in a sarcastic manner when a person is doing something we do not put in the ‘busy’ category? Like, taking a proper lunch break or spending a Saturday pottering about the house or just simply lying horizontal in front of Netflix. Things that, when analysed separately, are not unreasonable things for a person to be doing. Whilst usually said as a harmless ‘joke’, in the way that people do, it is one laced with busy-shaming and disappointed expectations. It suggests that resting or taking breaks is an unacceptable pastime. 

To be busy, to be in action, is deemed a worthy state to be in. If you’re working long hours, the connotations are that you’re important and successful. Busy in your personal life: you have side-hustles to be hustling. Busy in your social life: you’re popular and in-demand. 

These connotations, by their very nature, suggest that if you are not busy in any of those departments, then the opposite is the case. Lazy, unimportant, unpopular. 

And it’s become competitive. Gosh, we all like to tell each other how busy we are. 

I am guilty of this. I’ve responded with ‘busy’ when asked ‘how are things’, when in fact I’ve probably had a very healthy mix of busyness and resting going on. But I wouldn’t answer ‘relaxing’ to that question for a subconscious fear of appearing lazy or unimportant. And I have certainly been guilty of cramming my diary, dismissing rest and time to myself (which I so desperately need to fill my energy bank) in favour of the busyness. Yet I wonder, why is cramming our lives with so much that we live in a semi-permanent state of exhaustion the thing that makes us superior? 

So here’s another way of looking at it. Perhaps if someone is working longer hours than they are paid for, they are either overworked or inefficient. Perhaps if someone is constantly busy in their personal life, they’re not prioritising the rest their body and mind literally need to function properly. 

And what happens to that someone when their desires and dreams are being side-lined because they are so damn busy being busy? 

Of course, there is no guarantee that this is the case, but the reality of a person’s busyness may be far less enviable. And we would do well to remember that. 

As normality begins to creep back in, I will be doing my best not to glorify busyness. I will not be sucked into competing with my busyness. My time will not be filled to the brim but used intentionally with plenty of free gaps in between. Because if lockdown has taught us anything, it's that it's the little things that matter. And I don't want to miss them because I'm too busy being... busy. 


  1. Grandad would be very proud of you, he said practically the same thing to me. Xx

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts :) I sometimes wish I was not as busy and can just slow down and relax sometimes :)

    Nic | Nic's Adventures & Bakes