The Freelance Life

The Glorification of Busy

Stop the glorification of busy

A few months ago, I saw an image on Pinterest that immediately caught my attention and made me say, "Exactly!" I quickly repinned the photo and added it to my "Inspirational Truth" board. It's a very short, not overly complicated phrase with a charcoal background. It simply said:

Stop the glorification of busy.

I remembered the pin this past week while I was running hither and yon, completely stressing out about my full plate and doing my best not to appear frantic. I know plenty of people have busy schedules, and quite honestly, it can be a blessing more than a curse if you live in the "feast or famine" world of freelance. While I didn't want to make a big deal about my neverending to do list, I also wanted to be honest. (You'll notice honesty is a common thread here on my blog).

Between long hours at my full time job, researching and writing for my part time gigs, exercise, errands, eating and the occasional washing of a dish or two, I spent most of my week feeling so run down I couldn't think straight by Friday afternoon. And I still didn't get to 1/4 of the items on my list.

Did I over-schedule? You bet I did. Do I know better? Yep. But I still do it week after week after week because I'm hard-headed, stupid or delusional. (Feel free to pick one. You're probably right regardless of which you choose.)

Yet with my frenetic days and nights, I made sure to avoid one thing: Don't glorify your busy life.

So often we hear statements like "I'll sleep when I'm dead" or bragging about how early or late we worked while others were foolishly sleeping in their beds like some kind of ... human.

I'm not sure if it's connected to a misplaced sense of duty or the dastardly guilt brought on by a Protestant work ethic, but can we please call a moratorium on glorifying busy?

It's ok to be ambitious. It's ok to be hard-working. It's not ok to be exhausted and pretend that it doesn't hurt you.

The Secret of Sleep infographic intro

You know what breeds success besides hard work? A rested body and mind. Simply put: The human psyche needs time to recuperate. While we're sleeping, our bodies are not only repairing themselves from a day of ripping and running, our mind is also "downloading" short-term memories to our long-term "archives," analyzing the connections to the events of today and comparing them to the events of the past so we can psychologically cope with change, and constructing what-if scenarios to the problems and sticky wickets of the day. All of these functions are not only important to our survival, but to our creativity, energy and flexibility as well.

So why do we treat the state of rest as if it's an affectation of the lazy?

Last week, I mentioned to my friends that I can't believe I have to literally schedule a nap in my day because of my exhaustion. Every one of them was supportive and completely understood. Why? Because they're awesome. But also because they too knew that sometimes the only way to keep chugging along is to stop all together, and there's no shame in that.

Hopefully, in your life, busy times fall between periods of relative calm and steady routine, so there's a sense that this too shall pass.  However, if the long hours won't end for a while, don't be that guy who constantly tells people how busy you are as if no one knows what that feels like. Stop treating your schedule as if it's the same as President Obama's, and that anyone who gets 8 hours per night is less ambitious, less focused or less willing to make sacrifices to be successful.

Not everyone needs 8 hours of shut eye in one night's sleep, but generally speaking, about two-thirds of the U.S. population is sleep-deprived. Yes, even the super-successful. Since sleep deprivation robs us of our reflexes, ingenuity and focus, imagine how much more successful we'd all be if we accepted rest as a beautiful opportunity to grow instead of a burden we have to endure?

What Sleep Can Do For You section of infographic

I may not like falling asleep at 10pm on a Friday night due to exhaustion, but I'll happily welcome the Sandman if it means that I can rise the next morning and tackle the world with a fresh mind and renewed sense of perspective. Whether you work one job with 10-12 hour days or you're juggling 3 part-time gigs and a side hustle, put yourself first and pledge to stop the glorification of busy.

It's hard enough out there for dreamers. Cut yourself some slack and don't judge others' priorities based on your current schedule. Fatigue is the enemy of success and joy, so remember to support your dreams by stopping to rest and recuperate.

Do you ever schedule breaks to relax during times when you need it the most? What advice do you have to resist glorifying your busy schedule?

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