EPMEPM: Productivity

Not The B-Word

Fiona Blayney is banning the word ‘busy’. And there are good reasons for it.

I’m not quite sure when the realisation first came; it may have been at the moment where I found myself, yet again, answering the question of ‘How are you?’ with the response ‘Busy’. Or perhaps it was hearing that same response in each conversation I start. It could have been on one of the many occasions where I find another person describing me as busy. Whatever the catalyst, and there are many more than I have mentioned, I have turned my mind to the notion of ‘busyness’ and all of the connotations this little word brings.

It’s been quite a journey since I stopped being busy. Yes, that’s right; I’m no longer busy, and now I actually feel refreshed. My heart rate has dropped and I’m sleeping better and getting more done. All from letting go of busy.

Right now you are probably thinking ‘What has she done? How did she do it? Has she hooked up with the four-hour work week guy and typing this from a beach in Thailand?’ No, quite the opposite – let me explain. (Reading on will take you approximately 2.32 minutes, so slot that into your ideal week somewhere.)

Firstly we need to get clinical about this little word. If we refer to our learned friend, the dictionary, being busy is defined as ‘having a great deal to do’. I’m not convinced it’s that simple; for it to be so, we would need to believe that everyone can fit the same amount of ‘doing’ into their day, and anything more than that is busy. I don’t agree.

Consider for a moment that we all work at different speeds, process information in varying ways, input a kaleidoscope of emotions and energy, require different rest periods, plus more; I think it only fair to adjust the definition. Being busy, according to Fiona Blayney, is ‘having more to do than would be considered normal for oneself’. And so there came the evidence.

Hi, my name is Fiona Blayney and I am not busy.

For those of you who have ever seen my schedule, your head is now spinning and you’re thinking, ‘Of course you are busy!’ But here’s where we are wrong; I do not have anything more to do than that which is normal for me, so therefore I am actually not busy.

This little word ‘busy’ has infiltrated our lives, yours and mine. It has weaved its way in as a standard response, has taken on a new importance in the definition of who we are as people, has given false meaning and purpose and ultimately sent a level of pressure into your day simply by its use.

I cannot imagine it being possible to get more done in a day than I already do, yet every time I told myself I was busy a message was sent to my brain and with it the associated stress and working speed to get even more done. I could feel my heart race, my fingers take on a persona of the Phar Lap of typing, calls were more abrupt and there was a significant shift in the office as Fiona the tornado hit town.

That was the old Fi. I have now officially banned the word busy; it’s no longer part of my vocabulary. It hasn’t seen the light of day for a few months and wow, am I better for it. The B-word has been replaced with words like ‘productive’ and ‘efficient’, none of which provoke any negative response (well, none so far). In fact they have done the opposite. I am still getting through the same workload, perhaps even more; I am in flow more often and delivering higher quality results. It’s amazing what impact one little word can have.

Next time we speak and you ask how I am, I’ll say I am productive; I’m looking forward to hearing the same from you.

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