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Being busy is a defense mechanism. It’s a way to avoid just being. Having responsibilities, deadlines, a long task list… Overloading our senses can make us believe we are moving in the right direction, or at least in a direction. But the constant cycle of tasks we tackle without ever thinking often leaves us stagnant. Who proudly looks back at their old to-do lists at the end of the year and thinks: “Wow, I tackled so many tasks this year”?
Instead of measuring progress by the quantity of work we produce, we should consider the quality of our work. Not just the quality of the output, as usually measured by externally-designed metrics, but the quality of the impact it has on our mental and physical well-being. “
Next time you think of learning something new, or a friend asks you if you want to do something together or have a chat, and your automatic answer is: “I’m just too busy”, take a few minutes to actually consider whether you are actually too busy, and, if that’s the case, whether this busyness is more valuable to you in the long-term than learning something new or spending time with your friend.
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“How are things?” asked a friend. “It’s busy, but I’ll take some time to relax when things ease up,” I replied. I recently caught myself giving a variation of this answer every time I was asked how I was doing. “So much work, but hopefully it will be better next week.” Being busy all the time can give us an illusion of productivity which may feel reassuring, but isn’t there a risk we are too busy to enjoy life?
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