I think the line below about “professional martyrdom” is so right-on. But it’s not just professional – people are also “so busy” in their personal lives as well. It’s a competitive thing, always being too busy. What are we really busy for? Usually nothing that worthwhile – checking email, reading Twitter (hey, yo! Sign up to follow me so you too can get non-stop cat pictures!), documenting our lunch on Instagram. I do it, I’m a total kettle-calling pot on this one.
And yet the conventional workplace – the office – condemns the optimal working day as contemptibly slack. Watch carefully the next time someone rushes purposefully past you in the office corridor, shielded from eye contact by the ubiquitous smartphone, radiating the carefully honed “Can’t stop, too busy” expression so characteristic of corporate ambition. They are not rushing to arrive somewhere, still less to achieve anything. They are rushing because rushing is how they display how hard they work.
The cult of busyness extends far beyond grumpy bosses and line managers. It is a cultural malaise. In every area of public life, we demand not only that people work harder, but, crucially, that they be seen to work ever harder. This is the age of professional martyrdom.
As someone really interested in efficient time management I think that we try to fill available time because in most cases if you aren’t “so busy” people get suspicious. Maybe you aren’t working as hard as you could be (ah, the Cult of Productivity!) or maybe you aren’t experiencing everything life has to offer to the fullest. You have to be cramming something worthwhile (and by “worthwhile” it has to be something you can post to your various social media outlets with the intent of making other people jealous. Don’t lie! That’s totally what’s going on!) into every spare second. Truly, this is killing us and it isn’t moving us ahead. There has to be a better way.