If you’ve recently asked someone, “How are you?” a likely response you heard was, “Oh fine, just busy.”

And there you have it. “Busy” has been now elevated to an emotion!

Unfortunately, we live in a society that thrives on being busy. In fact, it’s almost a badge of honor! I mean, what if you weren’t busy? What would people think?!

With so many ways to connect we often have problems disconnecting. I contend that ‘busy’ is a new negative emotion that, like any negative emotion can take you down a path of limitation in your personal life and at work.

Recently our pastor, Tim Howey, talked about having a “healthy rhythm” versus finding “balance.” I really like this idea. I have often believed and coached individuals and leaders that trying to find and define balance is challenging because it’s so different for everyone. It also reminded me just how much of a problem busyness has become in our society and workplaces. In the workplace setting I refer to it as, “the Busyness of Business.” The toll in dollars of lost productivity and delivering mediocre results must be in the billions. And it’s not just costly in dollars, because the negative impact it has on overall well-being (physical, social, spiritual growth, etc.) is huge.

“Busy” has become a new emotion that, like every other emotion, must be intentionally kept in check to be at our best.

How can we keep busyness from taking over our lives? It begins with positive intention to carve out time on your calendar to, “be still.” We weren’t designed to be constantly in motion. Start with one or even two minutes each day. See what happens. Be intentional about protecting your time; it’s the one thing everyone has the same amount of each day (24 hours)!

As you practice, test yourself to see what percentage of time at work you spend:

  1. Planning,
  2. Doing, or
  3. Reviewing/Reflecting.

(BTW you can’t go over 100%!) Your percentage of #3 will improve, if you’re intentional.

Also, resist the challenge to make “busy” your new emotion. If someone asks, “How are you doing?” tell them exactly how you are doing with a real emotion (ok, maybe a little filter). See if they are shocked to hear you say anything but, “Busy.” (They probably will be, even if they don’t tell you.)

And then ask them the same question, and do something incredibly shocking: carve out a little time and really listen to what they say. If we can all do this, maybe “busy” will stop being the emotion it’s becoming!