February 11, 2012

A FRENCH PROVERB SAYS: “None so busy as those who do nothing.”
But what about being too busy all the time?
The truth is if you are too busy to relax, then you are too busy.
Technology is a big culprit behind the reason why we become so busy.
Just think about this: Do you remember the predictions about the paperless office and the leisure society? Between 1999 and 2002 global use of paper increased by 22% and we now seem to have less spare time than ever. We are also sleeping less than we used to, down from 9 hours per day in 1900 to 6.9 hours today. Indeed, the benefits of the computer age can be seen everywhere except in the productivity statistics, because we are inventing new ways of making ourselves busy.
Still, being too busy seems to be a badge of accomplishment and a picture of importance. When people invite me to give a talk I pull out my Iphone, check over my calendar and see my white spaces occupied with activities. People are impressed. They see how busy I am.
In fact there is a running rumor going around the corporate world that it takes them one year in advance to be able to get a booking from me. This is of course grossly exaggerated but it does take quite a few months lead time to have me schedule a date for a speaking or a training engagement.
And then I go home, exhausted and wondered how I could have packed so many activities in so short a time.
But this is not an exclusive condition for me.
The obsession with “busyness” can be seen in the way the work ethic has invaded childhood. Children must be kept busy at all limes. As a result, they are becoming overscheduled and we are cre¬ating a cohort that cannot think for itself, a generation of passive, risk-averse citizens and comfortably numb consumers with almost no imagination or self-reliance.
Children today are expected to do so many hours of back-breaking homework. And then rush off somewhere to do music lessons. And parents today feel that if they do not push their kids hard enough they may not succeed.
Watch what happens when summer season comes. Parents get paranoid and they feel nervous seeing their children idle. And so they enroll them in summer courses, sports programs, summer programs just to keep them busy.
Is busyness now an important element to life and living? Could we not get used to moments of quietness so we can pull our acts together? As I ask these questions I am actually asking myself.
Consider the following new terms:
TMI or Too much Information better known as information overload has a distant cousin, too much choice (TMC). In a nutshell, humankind is producing an excess of stuff. The amount of new information we produce today is estimated to be around 2 billion bytes annually. That’s (very roughly) 2 billion bytes or about 20 billion copies of a typical thick book. The average large corporation similarly experiences a doubling of the amount of information it produces annually.

Information is no longer power; power lies in the ability to attain and maintain attention. I am not an alarmist but what I want people to know is that the pace of life will continue to increase and we need to learn how to be quiet.
This is why my first hour of the day is spent on quiet time. Prayer and meditation of Scripture to bring sanity to my being.
Busyness may not be a good thing when it is done in excess.
Learn to be quiet. Learn to spend time in solitude as I certainly will this coming holiday season.
So don’t just do something, stand there or better still, sit down and be quiet.

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