How many times have you asked someone how they were, only to have them respond something to the effect of "I'm busy," or "Life is so crazy?" As it turns out, we've put more and more value on the importance of being busy, but we're setting ourselves up for failure in the process.
As it turns out, this busyness frame of mind is likely more widespread than we're aware. A recent study published by the Harvard Business Review highlights how busy Americans are, and just how often we talk about it. From tweets to holiday letters, busyness is something that we've begun to celebrate.
The study explains that even the media is getting in on the trend. Ads directed toward the wealthy used to feature people relaxing and enjoying vacations. Today, those ads instead portray multi-tasking businessmen and people who are busy and have little free time to spare.
But this study did more than examine how much we talk about being busy, going a step further and examining how busyness affects how we perceive a person. The findings? "The more we believe that one has the opportunity for success based on hard work, the more we tend to think that people who skip leisure and work all the time are of higher standing."
This new value of busyness affects products, too. The study found that products which provide convenience, or which are perceived as being specifically for the busiest people, signal a higher status than traditional products. Peapod, the grocery delivery service provided by Stop&Shop, is one example of such a product.
Curious about whether this busyness value would hold true in other cultures, the study examined the value of busyness in Italy. It turns out that Italy contrasts dramatically with the findings in the United States, with Italians seeing leisure and free time more as a status symbol than busyness.
Part of the issue with the spreading popularity of busyness may be the fact that the idea is becoming mainstream. As more and more people talk about how busy they are, it becomes the "in" thing to do, and more people add on to the trend.
The problem is, being perpetually busy isn't healthy. Long-term stress has significant health implications, including increased risks of stroke or heart attack, potential ulcers, and a weakened immune system.
And let's not forget that when you're chronically busy, you can miss out on life. From spending less time with your family to missing out on enjoyable experiences, working too much and being too busy may not turn out like you'd expect.
If you find yourself frequently saying that you're busy or complaining about your to-do list, it's time to reevaluate. Consider what activities you can cut down on or eliminate, and be sure to schedule some time to relax every day.