middleagedmum.com: The Cult of Busy

‘Hi love, I’m so sorry for the late reply, I’ve been absolutely manic this week. I can’t do next weekend or the weekend after, and then it’s Christmas… maybe we could get a date some time in Jan? Would love to catch up but am insanely busy – hows you? xx’

Sound familiar? You have probably either written or received a text or email like this recently, as being ‘super busy’ seems to have become the norm for anyone with a job, family and friends. Sometimes the sheer amount of communication it takes to get through the day feels over whelming as our smart phones take over our lives and dictate our every move – the diary dates build up and the meetings get earlier (and later) and one begins to wonder if things were easier when all we had on our desk was a land line and notebook & pen! But has being ‘busy’ become a way of life and developed into some kind of cult?

Dr Michael Sinclair, consultant psychologist and author of Mindfullness for Busy People says ‘Trying to juggle a lot of things at the same time can make us feel important, showing others just how time pressured we are and also in creating a drama of activity we can prove to ourselves and/or others we are somehow coping. In this modern world of incessant, 24 hour communication, many of us can feel a little insignificant, unable to keep up, and out of control. So being and appearing busy can give a boost to our sense of self-worth.’

Mmm sounds very familiar and like quite a few people I know – including me.
Years ago I had a boss who would constantly interrupt a (one to one) meeting to answer her Blackberry – which was not only rude and unnecessary (after all we worked in trends not neuroscience) it was almost certainly a strategy to show important/busy she was.

Being mindful and in the moment is surely something to aspire to and switching off technology and focusing on real life is something I intend to prioritise in 2016.

I will start with a list of things I have been meaning to get round to since  – oh about 1994……..

  • Sort out the kitchen drawer containing old prescription drugs, dog treats, plasters, dried up bottles of nail varnish, expensive herbal remedies from Wholefoods that I’ve never opened and numerous small Ikea pencils, hair grips, safety pins, Kinder Egg toys from 1998, old lighters that don’t work and ironic boxes of matches from remote corners of the world, etc etc.
  • Tidy the spice/baking cupboard so that I don’t have to huff and puff and pull out every bottle/packet, spilling random bottle of unknown substances all over the kitchen floor every time I want to use almond essence or kaffir lime leaves.
  • Sort out all of the photographs from 1972 – 2007. Thank God for smart phones, we may not ever look at any of the images we take apart from on Instagram, but at least they are not lying around in a giant chest making you feel bad.
  • Organise the dressing up /Halloween/Christmas boxes in the loft so that when an occasion to use them arises I don’t have to send  M.A.D back up to the loft several times to find the scary arm which I just know is up there somewhere.
  • Properly arrange the book shelves and get rid of those we don’t read. Yes it’s nice to keep every novel that influenced me through my teenage years and some of the children’s old books for any future grandchildren who may visit, but do we honestly need the entire Horrible Histories series and every book Jilly Cooper ever wrote.
  • Ditto CD’s, PS games and videos and any in fact any other technology that we no longer own the actual  vehicle which enables us to watch or listen to the things we have stacking up in cupboards all over the house.
  • Tidy my computer like an actual grown up who runs her own business and doesn’t feel embarrassed when the intern’s desktop and files are more organised.
  • Edit the insane number of carrier/tote/plastic bags in the cupboard under the stairs and either throw them away or put them in the back of the car so that I can forget to take them out every time I go to the supermarket or Ikea.

The loft. The cellar – oh I could go on but life just too short and to be honest I’m busier than the busiest person on Busy Street, Manic on Sea, Busyshire.



  • sarah says:

    I detect a whiff of burning martyr with most ‘busy’ people. It has become a way of showing how indispensible you are.

  • sue evans says:

    Jane, I didn’t know we shared a kitchen drawer ?
    Loved this post because it’s all so true. Even though I am semi-retired, don’t Tweet, don’t have a Smartphone ( so no Instagramming / Pintrest-ing), I feel guilty if I am not “busy”. I never feel able to just sit in the middle of the day and read a book or go out for a walk that doesn’t have some sort of objective ( like a trip to the post office). I think “busy” is ingrained in our generation for all the reasons you quote and hope to try and un-busy myself in 2016.
    And I think I know who The Boss With the Blackberry is ! If not, I had one as well ………

  • Julia Little says:

    Jane, that post made me smile, oh so familiar! I think Sue has a good point – guilt. I wonder if we would actually quite enjoy going through that drawer or binning the old CDs (add to Spotify playlist first) if it wasn’t for everything else being more pressing. These jobs aren’t priority, so they go to the bottom of the list. I’m going to book a day and pick one of the ‘jobs’, I will definitely get job satisfaction when it’s done…

  • Jane says:

    Post inspired by you Julia. Perhaps we should have a national “sort out the kitchen drawer’ day!! x

  • Jane says:

    Yes you certainly do know who that boss was Sue!! xx

  • Osnat says:

    This post made me laugh and nod in agreement…it must be an affliction that has spread like a virus as I live in Canada but it sounds exactly like my life and others. I’m actually allergic to those people who are oh so so busy you are lucky if you get a gap in their full diary for a few months in advance scheduled meeting. I think no matter how busy I’m and yes I’m super busy because we all are…I will always make time to meet my friends for coffee, a walk, a gossip or a drink. It’s all about priorities. And with all the moves I have gone through in my life this last one is going to be huge…cause it’s actually about downsizing….a scary scary word…but there is something cleansing about looking through boxes from last move and full cuppbords around me and yes throwing things I never thought I would dare to. Less is the new more!

  • sue evans says:

    Ha, knew who you were talking about ! And all those self-help books never helped her at all !

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