“If you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working?”

How many times have you asked someone how they are, and they answered with something along the lines of “Oh grand, keeping busy so I can’t complain”?

I don’t know about you, but it’s something that I hear a lot and I’ve noticed that it’s usually said with a positive connotation. But is it really a good thing?

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Living in a society where everything happens almost instantly, people are finding themselves under a new-found pressure to get as much done as possible in 24 hours. 

If we aren’t in work or university, we’re working on projects or assignments at home. If we aren’t at the gym trying to keep fit, we’re in the house trying to get the place cleaned up for a few more days. We’re living in a world of endless to-do lists, but yet this is portrayed as if it’s something to be happy about.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should sit around all day doing nothing and I for one really admire a hard-work ethic, but have things gotten to the point that we feel guilty for sitting down to watch a movie on a weekday evening, instead of replying to the emails your boss sent 20 minutes after you left the office?

My mother always tells me that she can’t believe when I say that time is going too quickly, because she never felt like that at my age (and it certainly wasn’t because she was sitting around doing nothing). So I couldn’t help but think about why I feel like this so often; and to be honest I blame technology. Yes, I know what you’re thinking…“We all waste so much time on social media”. Which is true, but technology has advanced so much in the last thirty years, we now have fully-functioning computers in our pockets. Everything is so instantaneous. From our communication to our grocery shopping; it can all be done with the click of a few buttons. And I feel that this new quick-paced culture has created a society that is too impatient and expects everything and everyone to be ‘flat to the mat’ 100% of the time. We become aggravated when traffic isn’t moving fast enough or when the wifi isn’t working because we always have things to get done.

That’s what it comes down to isn’t it? We can’t spend too long chatting to our neighbours because we have somewhere to be. We don’t call our family because we can do that any time and there’s six assignments waiting to be finished. We don’t take time to relax after work because the housework needs to be done before bed.

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Personally, I have found myself in a continuous rut of planning every hour of every day so that I can go to work, go to uni, go to the gym, get my assignments done, do some housework, try and see my friends, family and boyfriend, get sufficient sleep, work on my personal brand and so on. We are under so much pressure to do everything all at once, that we don’t make time for the things that we’re essentially working for. You know the feeling; you have something coming up that you should be looking forward to but you aren’t because you just have too much to do.

There’s a saying that goes “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today” and I can’t help but feel that 21st century life has put the wrong context to this.

We live in such a constant cycle of trying to catch-up or get ahead that we don’t appreciate what we’ve worked for so far. We need to take a step back and remember that life is not a race, it’s a journey. And by trying to take shortcuts all we are doing is losing out on all the amazing sights along the way.

Okay so yes, being busy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But we need to stop glorifying busyness as if it’s a sign of success. Do your job and do it well. Do your chores and do them well. Do the things you need to do, and do them well. But do not prioritise the things that can wait, over the things that really matter.

As Eli Wallach asked, “if you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working?”

 

Shannon Hegarty is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-hegarty-594193172/ and Twitter: @shannonhegPR