I called up a good friend the other day. This is how the conversation went.

“How are you?”

“Good, rather busy”

“How’s work?”

“Don’t ask, it’s been a crazy week and another crazy schedule for the next week”

“So, are we meeting today?”

“Hmmm… It’s just so busy. But, I’ll take out time and come for sure.”

I look up Facebook & LinkedIn, everybody seems to be busy with work, with commitments. Sorry, the buzz word is ‘Crazily Busy’. Wonder why the economy is not doing well when everyone is so busy! Everybody is so busy, that they do not reply to messages nor do they call back unless, of course, they have some work with you. Celebrities on Twitter take pride in saying ‘how busy they are’. I thought, I was the only one noticing this trend till I came across this wonderful research paper around ‘being busy’.

Bellezza, Paharia & Keinan from Columbia University have done an amazing study on “being busy”. While other research on conspicuous consumption had typically analysed how people spend money on products that signal status, their research investigates conspicuous consumption in relation to time. The authors argue that a busy and overworked lifestyle rather than a leisurely life style has become an aspirational symbol. They have referred to two factors that can be linked & correlated to be being busy:

Being very busy has a positive inference to status in the society; it signifies upward mobility. A busy person is like a scarce gemstone, thus making him all the more precious.
Busy person possesses desired human capital characteristics like competence, ambition; they have qualities which are scarce and hence they enjoy a high demand.

Some amazing inferences from the study:

  • Whether you are busy attending social calendars or running chores, busy people are perceived to be doing more ‘meaningful jobs’
  • Busier people are perceived to be spending significantly more time at work; (PS: reality doesn’t matter)
  • Busier people are also considered faster in doing work and getting things done and hence perceived to be smarter

In fact, from a conspicuous consumption perspective, as a society we are moving from the preciousness and scarcity of goods to the preciousness and scarcity of individuals.

And here comes ‘humble-bragging’ – art of showing off something with an ostensibly self-deprecating statement. For example, “I would love some free time, I have been so busy writing three books together!” Check out (https://twitter.com/Humblebrag). It is an art to learn, in case you are not already practising it.

No wonder, marketing campaigns nowadays talk about how we can be more productive, how we can save time and how their products can integrate into an over-worked lifestyle.

Most of us would fit into either of the two categories – ‘being busy’ or ‘acting busy’. While the ‘acting busy’ guys amongst us can continue buzzing away merrily till they are discovered, if you belong to the first category of ‘being busy’ or you know people who fall in this category, it would be good to be more aware of the psychological roots of this lifestyle.

Also, it is important to note that all this has an extreme effect on health of an individual both mentally and physically. Over – commitments, constantly chasing timelines, sleep deprivation, no exercise, unhealthy food and more. In essence, we are pushing ourselves and our team members into a dizzying roller-coaster ride.

It is time we managed our ‘time better’. Time management is not just about creating an urgent/ important matrix. It is about a change in the way we look at ourselves and our schedules, it is about discipline, etiquettes and also a lot about relationships. If you have not experienced our ‘Time Management’ program yet, now is the ‘time’.

Write to me at smita@ableventures.in I along with our team of 150 trainers would be happy to help you and your organisation bring out your potential and not just ‘manage time’.