By: Chris Warren.
It was one of those days at work when the morning starts off with not much going on, then soon after lunch the floodgates open. Yeah, go figure: An hour and a half to quitting time on a Friday and suddenly everybody wants something. It all would not be so bad if I actually cleared my to-do list. It seems the more busy I am, the less I get done.
The weird phenomenon follows me home. My house is never as clean as I want it to be. The laundry is never totally off the floor. I have a truck that needs four new shock absorbers and yard that needs tending. It’s not that I’m lazy; I spend plenty of time on household chores and no one who knows me will say under oath that I’m a couch potato. I’m always busy yet never ahead.
One of my friends points out, correctly, that I’ll drop what I’m doing to go fix a neighbor’s furnace or fix a flat tire on their car, but the exterior light I’ve been needing on the back stretch of my own property has been wishful thinking for months now. I’m easily distracted. Jumping from task to task without finishing any of them is just activity without productivity. Being busy and getting things done are not the same thing.
I get no traction cause I’m running on ice
It’s taking me twice as long
I get a bad reaction cause I’m running on ice
Where did my life go wrong?
-Billy Joel, Running On Ice
What am I whining about? Everyone is busy these days. I’m not so much complaining as expressing amazement that all the things that make life easier and less busy seem to be working against us. For example, the iPhone that is supposed to be my productivity savior is a constant distraction. Texts, emails, news updates, all day and all night. I’m sure I’m not the only guy in the world who peeks at emails while standing in the checkout line at the store, as if whatever is in my mailbox is so mortally important that it absolutely positively must have my undivided attention at that very instant.
It’s a little embarrassing to admit that all this busy is largely of my own making. It’s not because of fast internet connections that I can’t stay on task, nor is there any compelling reason why I need to check emails while waiting in line. I’m not that important. Really, I’m not. Whatever it is, it can wait. Yet I have trouble letting it wait. I’ve been sucked into the vortex of connectivity. In other words, staying in touch just because I can.
Even without the distractions that come with being hooked into the “world’s largest, fastest, most reliable network,” I would still be a busy airheaded mess. No, I can’t blame my iPhone for the laundry not being done. I could plausibly pin it on the time I spend running two blogs. Writing takes several hours per week that could be spent putting up that light I was talking about. Or cleaning the garage. Or something.
I get a lot of personal fulfillment from working on my blogs, and the benefits writing has on my mental health cannot be quantified. I also find it very easy to dabble for hours in one of my many other hobbies. There is more to life than a completely laundry-free bedroom floor, while at the same time I know that sooner or later, the laundry’s gotta get done.
The same friend who won’t let me forget about the yet-unrealized outdoor light also compliments me on how in order my life is for being as busy as I am. I think he’s being sincere, but right now I don’t have time to mull it over. I have to go crawl under my truck and deal with those shock absorbers, that is, assuming I don’t get kicked off course between here and the driveway.