Anti-Busyness Is Here

Walking a turtle

Anti-Busyness Is Here

Has the time come to finally slow down and enjoy some free time?

The re-emergence has begun. Some people are preparing for post-pandemic life, while others are quickly embracing the transition. It will, no doubt, look different for everyone, but seems to be one thing we all agree on: that busyness is overrated.

Especially what Vice calls the “tyranny of busyness.” It’s not just about packing each day with as much as possible, but also the value placed on doing so: Being busy made people feel good about themselves, and they used that lack of free time to signal their worth to others.

The pandemic offered a rare moment for some people to break away from that inertia and reassess priorities while discovering new hobbies. They had time to reflect on how they used busyness to define themselves—and how it led to stress (PDF) and the conflation of productivity and self-worth.

Of course, gaining this time and these insights reflects a certain amount of privilege—but that’s kind of the point. Research has found that busyness is most often assumed as a status symbol for higher-paid workers. For hourly or gig workers, being too busy is less a symbol of success and more a byproduct of a lack of autonomy and social safety nets.

Similarly, a lot of us have experienced burnout, and its adjacent phenomenon, languishing, during the pandemic. Naomi Osaka—who withdrew from another tournament over mental health concerns—has given a public face to a growing, and long overdue, revolt to over-ambition, according to a fascinating op-ed in the New York Times.

Suddenly, few of us are eager to get back to the frantic and frenetic pace that was so normal before COVID. Just thinking of it gives me a busyness hangover. Will free time be the new status symbol? This should be discussed over a long, leisurely lunch.

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FYI

In the late 1800s, it was briefly fashionable to walk a turtle on a string around Paris to signal you were in no rush, because that was a sign of status.

Utilize Your
Newfound Free Time

Guitar illustration
Guitar illustration

A look into the secret lives of successful men reveals one important common thread. And no, it’s not infidelity. It’s a hobby. A passion. After all, when the 9-to-5 has you stressed out or your relationship is on the rocks or the credit cards are maxed out, a hobby lets you channel all that into something worthwhile and positive.

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