I’m incredibly busy. And your point is? A response to Tim Kreider’s NYT’s Opinionator Piece

I am the busiest person I know. Period. I don’t actually know anyone who is busier than I am (and I do know a lot of people, and no, I am most definitely NOT being self-congratulatory). I am incredibly busy. But I’m not STUPID busy. I’m focused, work-and-play-time-defined-by-boundaries busy. I have spent years of my life refining my routines, strategies and tactics for what works for me. I am busy, and that is a good thing, despite what Tim Kreider says on his NYT’s Opinionator article. Being busy IS in fact better than being just idle. Let me explain why I think that.


Me, giving a talk. Photo credit: Invoke Media

If you have read my blog for more than a year, or followed me on Twitter, you probably know that I used to write a blog post, every six months, like clockwork saying “I am exhausted, I need ME time, I can’t cope with everything”. Like clockwork. Slowly but surely, these posts have stopped. Whenever I do need a break, I call for a moratorium on everything I do outside of my academic life: I take breaks from blogging. I refuse new pitches for stories/articles/posts. I write less on my blog.


Me with my friends Terra and Karen. Photo credit: Jules Morgan on Flickr

And I ALWAYS make sure that I spend time with the people I love the most. As my closest friends know, I make it my priority to make time for my loved ones (JT takes first priority, and when my family is in town, they do and JT takes second, and then the rest of my friends). I *always* schedule relaxing time, time with my friends, time for self-reflection. But I also work REALLY hard. I teach, I do research, I give keynotes and talks, I speak at conferences, I run workshops. I write. I volunteer. I connect people with others. I give of myself to the community, and I build community around me. All of this requires me to be VERY organized with my schedule. That’s why I wake up most days at 4:45am. That’s why I have a defined morning routine. That’s why I manage myself by the task and not by the hour.

WordCamp Victoria 2010

Me speaking at WordCamp Victoria 2010. Photo by John Bollwitt

And I have a social media life, on top of all that (just read what a day in my life looks like on the profile that the Vancouver chapter of the Canadian Public Relations Society did of me). Of course I’m not always online (although it may look like it, since I schedule some of my social media content).

He was

I *am* in fact, blogging this. Photo by Rebecca Bollwitt

THAT is the trick.

Scheduling yourself to the very minute, like I do, may in fact enable you to have more relaxing time. If you work smarter, harder and more focused, you can expand the amount of time you schedule to relax and just take life as it comes. If you read my schedule, you can see that while I wake up super early, there is ALWAYS time for something relaxing and leisurely.

Raul eats cheese!

Me eating cheese, one of those very rare times! Photo credit: Anthony Nicalo

But, do you ever sit down and smell the roses, Raul? Do you ever take enough time to yourself?
Not always. I do work very hard at taking care of myself. That was my goal since 2011. I try, but as I have always said, life is a balancing act. I am not always very good at balancing my free time with my busy time, but I’m always studying myself and trying to find ways to better myself. THAT is what I think is important.

And in the end, the answer lies, as Kreider says, in a middle-of-the-road solution.

Perhaps the world would soon slide to ruin if everyone behaved as I do. But I would suggest that an ideal human life lies somewhere between my own defiant indolence and the rest of the world’s endless frenetic hustle.

Bombay Sapphire Summer Cocktails and BBQ Party

Me having a cocktail at the Bombay Sapphire Summer Cocktails Party. Photo by Raj Taneja

In my case, I thrive on being busy. Being idle only works for me for a very short period of time, the time I require to recuperate. That’s why I am a hummingbird. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now, the question on to you my dear readers: Are you always busy? Does this hinder you or do you thrive on being busy? Let me know in the comments section.

Related posts:

  1. Be the right kind of “busy”
  2. The Point Grill (UBC Point Grey campus)
  3. House of Atypical Pairings at April Point Resort (Quadra Island, Tastes of April Point 2011)
  4. On the etiquette of re-tweets – a response
  5. Raul is a busy guy

Comments (3)

AnabelleJuly 3rd, 2012 at 8:50 am

There’s a difference between being busy for the sake of busyness and being busy because we love what we do. I think that what the article is really calling for is to realize that being busy just because “it’s what you must do” is the wrong way to go about doing your tasks, and you end up using busyness like you would use drugs, or TV, or alcohol: to forget about the things that bother you.

This doesn’t seem to be your case, though, because you have the love of your work and a drive that has nothing to do with simply keeping busy for the sake of it.

SueJuly 3rd, 2012 at 9:32 am

I am always busy. If I stopped to take stock of all the things I pack into my life, I would quite certainly declare that I needed to let some things go, but I am blissfully happy being this busy.

When I am not busy, I have time to complain. I have time to question myself, be ground down by perfectionism and get into a funk. When I am busy I can justify being “good enough” and I get more done and am happier with the results.

I didn’t read the original article but I also know that there are many people who do not thrive on busyness the way I do. I’m married to a wonderful person who is happy with much less busy, and his calm vibe makes it possible for me to keep on going at this breakneck speed.

VickiJuly 3rd, 2012 at 2:04 pm

I don’t think the NYT article is meant to resonate with people who are happy being busy, such as yourself. Rather, the article is making a point to those who are busy to the point of exhaustion; those who don’t make time for their family and friends, and those who feel they MUST keep busy in order to feel important and have a meaningful life. This article is a reminder for them to slow down because we all know what stress can do in our lives.

His statement about parents pushing their children into doing too many extracurricular activities is completely true. Seriously, why does little Adam have to take swimming, violin, tap dance and karate classes all at the same time? He’s only 7 years old! This scenario is true because it’s my nephew. I ask my sister why and she acknowledges that it’s because the other parents are doing the same thing!

What ever happened to letting children loose in the playground, playing tag in the backyard, making sandcastles on the beach, laying on the grass and staring at the clouds? I guess there’s no time for that kind of wasteful, idle behaviour. It’s sad really.

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