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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Talking about how busy you are has another undesired effect: It makes you seem ineffective"

Back in May I had published this quote (among others) that I had read in The Thinking Life, a thought-provoking book by P.M. Forni:

" 'I have no time,' we say, but we do, we always do. What we lack is the will or wisdom to commit our time to goals that would be smart of us to pursue. If you are really motivated to do something, you will make time for it. I am not arguing that you are not busy. Most of us are. I am simply urging you to consider that you are only as busy as you let yourself be."

I chose this particular excerpt to make the point that if we care enough about what we have to do, we will always find the time in which to do it.

The operative words are "what we have to do". And also "find the time".

Whether we are in full-time employment or in pursuit of an academic/vocational course, we may have little or no say in the nature of the tasks assigned to us. It is rare for a boss to ask you if you would like to do this or that job. And there is certainly no point in grumbling about the lack of time. When such is the case, surely it is to our advantage to tackle any assignment head-on by making the time for it and by caring enough about the outcome?

After all, if you love what you do, you get to do what you love.


Now here's another perspective on this tendency that many people have of asserting they are "busy as usual". Writing in The Week, the magazine's business editor Carmel Lobello says it is time to stop talking about how swamped you are because...

...talking about how slammed you are can actually damage your ability to connect and interact with people, which is bad for all aspects of life.

In Harvard Business Review, entrepreneur Meredith Fineman says, "To assume that being 'busy' (at this point it has totally lost its meaning) is cool, or brag-worthy, or tweetable, is ridiculous."

As my cool students would say, "True that."

Read Carmel Lobello's enlightening column in its entirety here: The worst word in business: 'Busy'.

PS: I remember that when I was working with Khaleej Times in Dubai, my colleagues would invariably respond to my friendly greeting "How are you doing?" with the retort "Surviving." But any time I was asked "How are you doing?", my response would invariably be "Thriving."

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