The Rockwood Files: Are you crazy busy?

rockwood files colorBy Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

A few years ago, I got a phone call from a friend and, as soon as I said hello, she said, almost apologetically, “Hey! It’s me. I hate to even call you because I know you’re extremely busy so I’ll make this fast…”

It was a light bulb moment that woke me up. Sure, I was busy. But was I so busy that I’d begun to miss out on the things I want most? Like conversations with good friends? Non-hurried time with family? A sense of calm? Because if I was, I needed to get a lot less busy – and fast.

Since that phone call, I’m more careful about how I answer the question, “How have you been?” Before, I might have rattled off a list of projects I was working on or how many loads of laundry I had piled up or how many times a week I drive the kids from here to there. I thought being busy was a sign that you were not only a productive member of society but also important, goal-oriented – necessary.

We Americans wear “busy” as a badge of honor. We mention how few hours of sleep we’re surviving on lately. We’re bone-tired but also confident that the constant flurry of activity is proof that our lives are not only full but meaningful.

But “busy” can become a beast – one that grows bigger and hungrier before we notice how much it’s eating us up. The beast cons us into thinking we’ll have time to slow down later – when things aren’t so busy. But the beast lies.

I just finished reading an insightful book about busyness, which I spotted during a rushed trip to the store. It jumped out at me because there on the book’s green cover were two simple words that describe so many of the people I know: “Crazy Busy.”

As a recovering busy-aholic, I knew I should read it. (If you’re often slave to a beastly “to do” list, you might want to read it, too. It’s a short book, so it won’t become one more thing you’re “busy” doing.)

The author, Kevin DeYoung, admits he might be “the worst possible person to write this book.” As a minister, husband, father of five, author, speaker and blogger, the guy is about as busy as they come and struggles to not let his own busyness become crazy.

One of my favorite parts of the book is a passage about how much our own sense of pride factors into our busyness. Maybe we don’t always have to run in a zillion different directions, but we choose to because we’re afraid of missing out on something. Maybe we sacrifice the kind of life that’s important to us so we can keep up with the hustle and bustle of a life that just seems important. The author also points out how we often use technology to ensure that we’re never truly un-busy.

“Sometimes I wonder if I’m so busy because I’ve come to believe the lie that busyness is the point,” he writes. “And nothing allows you to be busy – all the time, with anyone anywhere – like having the whole world in a little black rectangle in your pocket.”

He doesn’t recommend ditching your iPhone and sitting on a yoga mat all day, and he’s careful not to make work sound like a bad thing. We’re supposed to be busy but not at the expense of things (and people) that make life truly worthwhile.

I don’t think busy is always bad. It’s a way of life for most of us. But it’s not the meaning of our lives. It’s not the whole point. And it would be a shame to miss out on life’s blessings just to keep feeding the beast we call “busy.”

gwen rockwoodGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s new book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography