Whether you’re complaining about the burdens of working long hours or humblebragging about how in-demand you are, it’s time to shift our focus from how much time we don’t have to how we enjoy the precious time we do have.
It’s the other “B-word.” You know it — that word that bubbles up when you run into a colleague or catch up with a friend you haven’t seen since she decided to go back to grad school. “How are you?” you ask, and before you finish the question, the synonyms start pouring out. “I’m slammed, everything’s been crazy, my life is hectic, I’ve been so stressed out,” they pant, as if they just got done running the marathon that is their daily life. Even if we all hate it when others tell us how busy they are, we will become that person if we miss an appointment or a deadline, we show up late for brunch, or we just forget to call: “Sorry, I was busy.”
I’m not here to tell you you’re not busy, because at least statistically, you are. Not only does research show that we're working harder and longer, but we also spend a disproportionate amount of time getting to our jobs. Workers spend roughly a week stuck in traffic every year just getting to their jobs. When it comes to work-life balance, those realities set us up to fail...but do we do ourselves any favors by spending our precious little free time talking about how slammed we are?
Whether you’re complaining about the burdens of working long hours or humblebragging about how in-demand you are, it’s time to shift our focus from how much time we don’t have to how we enjoy the precious time we do have. This year, I decided to ban the word busy from my vocabulary and replace it with explanations that are more descriptive. Here's how to start: Instead of saying “I’m busy” when a friend invites you to a party, just thank them and say you have other plans. Or even better: You can be up-front about the fact that maybe you just don’t want to do something that night. Maybe you just want to stay in that night and relax. Maybe we all aren’t actually doing anything at all — and that’s actually a great thing. Let’s brag about that instead.