Help, I’ve Fallen Into the Busy Trap and I Can’t Get Up!

Earlier this evening, I started to pack my day bag for a quick trip to Pittsburgh and sent out a last minute PowerPoint presentation that will be used for my client meeting tomorrow. I hopped on my bike to do a quick stop at Target to pick up cleaning supplies and grab money at the ATM and then headed to my regularly scheduled volunteer gig at the Latino center nearby. An hour later, I frantically biked home, stuffed some final items into my day bag, grabbed some food on the fly and headed towards the airport to board my flight.

On my way into Target, a canvasser stopped me to ask if I was a registered voter and oh, did I have a moment? Smiling I had said, “I’m in a rush” as I made my way into the store while he disbelieving (literally – he didn’t believe me) looked on.

There’s been a lot of dialogue over the past month given the June opinion article written on the ‘busy’ trap – which seems to indicate that we’ve brought upon this busy state by enrolling in activities and voluntarily entering into “obligations” that are really choices that we’ve made. I tend to agree that we often fall into these traps, but I also think that we are able to artfully set them at our own whim.

For me, there’s a delicate balance of “FOMO” (fear of missing out) – that feeling of dread when you know something is happening without you; it’s almost better not to have known at all. And then there’s activities that you choose to do and make a priority in your life. Sometimes work or relationships trump all, but at the end of the day it’s the priority that you’ve set.

I often feel that when I’m on the move, I must be making progress… that all the dozens of different activities that I’m engaged in have given me purpose as I go through life. Sometimes, even being in motion (on airplanes, buses and automobiles) gives me a false sense of growing wiser, more mature. Yet, in these moments, when everything seems to be happening, I feel as though I’m not truly there.  I know how to act and react, but I haven’t given myself the space and time to really think about my actions. It’s in the moments that I pause, reflect and give myself time to think that I find myself making true progress.