The curse of busy.
And the freedom of focus.
"I am so busy."
Possibly the most uttered four words of the 21st century. It's a compounding result of more time spent in the office, less time spent on recreation, and constant connection to our digital lives. No matter the person, the title, or the career everyone seems to be busier than ever, and most of us wear it as a badge of honor.
Busy, by definition, might just mean a full calendar. But we all know that is not the context in which we use it. Busy means we are wanted, needed, and a part of a team. Busy means those 12 hour days matter. Busy means there's a purpose behind the incessant email checking, status updating, and meeting attending. And if we're honest with ourselves, busy oftentimes is simply a blanketed statement intended to cover up any real progress being made. Busy means we're moving all day, but mostly in circles. Busy means we should have a lot done, but we feel like we've done little. Busy means we're focused on too many things, and making an impact on none of them.
This is our modern day dilemma. And this is the curse of busy.
There is one, and one only, antidote to the curse of busy. That antidote is focus. Think of a professional baseball player. Let's picture this guy being a pitcher. He's called to the mound in game 5 of a playoff series. His wife is due any day with their first child. His mother is sick and being moved to a nursing home. His contract is up at the end of this season with no idea where he will land. He has little league pitching camps to coach in the off-season. And he had to fire his agent recently and is currently looking for a new one. He, by all definitions of the word, is busy.
But how does this pitcher appear when he goes to the mound? His presence is calm. His body is loose. His eyes have tunnel vision toward the square box in front of him. There is nothing floating between his ears except the pitch he's about to throw. The planning meetings will wait. The phone call from his wife will come. The agents will always be there to hire. For now, he has one mission and one mission only, and that is to win the battle with the guy standing 60 feet in front of him.
He, by all definitions of the word, is focused.
You and I are not professional baseball players, yet the major success principles in life rarely waiver from career to career, or passion to passion. Success is found at the end of of a focused path, not at the end of endless busy paths that seem to take us nowhere.
There are many tangible ways to go from busy to focused. But having actionable steps to take won't mean a thing if we don't change our mentality first. We need to ditch the curse of busy and instead turn toward focus. You'll find "busy" is so wired into our vocabulary and conversations that you'll catch yourself saying it, or wanting to say it, multiple times throughout the day. When you catch yourself is when you have an opportunity to change it. Ask yourself in your head "Am I busy or am I unfocused?" You will know the answer before you ask the question.
The curse of busy is a curse that can be broken. And it's broken with the freedom of focus.