I am back from the dead to send you an opinion piece from the NY Times, which is a far more eloquent, straightforward and thorough attack on busy-ness than I ever managed in all of the How to Act Productive posts:
“Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.”
Oh, so good.
(Yes it is pure delusion on my part that I might introduce a human being to a NYTimes article that was sitting atop its most-emailed list for days by posting it on a blog that hasn’t been updated in over a year. So be it.)
I can say this, though, to add some color: It’s been over a year since I’ve left grad school and entered the professional workforce in a field completely unrelated to grad school (My PhD involved nano-scale semiconductors. I am currently in a business and operations role at a biofuels company….completely unrelated to semiconductors or the physics of them.) And I can say this about my year-long observations of the (small segment of) professional workforce: The ‘busy trap’ continues at the office. People still act busy when, by most accounts, they really aren’t. This is the source of How to Act Productive.
Tim Kreider, though, goes one step farther and says, most people are busy, their lives packed with every possible obligation. Then asks his most important question: Is that necessary?
The psychological problem underlying both observances — people acting busy to act busy, or people being busy to be busy — seems to me to be the same: something in our culture and our minds says it’s not ok to not be busy.
The author suggests this is not necessary.
My question is: What sacrifices am I willing to make in order to live in the enviable way that he mentions doing in his article. Ambition? Impressing your boss? Getting promoted?
Or do I even need to sacrifice those things at all? I don’t know.
Nonetheless, enjoy the article, and enjoy fireworks and friends! (But make sure you bring your phone with you to check email while you have to wait for the fireworks to start…)
Article: The Busy Trap