Are You Productive or Just Busy?

May 30, 2014

Have you ever watched someone who is always busy but doesn’t seem to accomplish anything? It’s one of the most amazing and dizzying sights to behold.

Whenever I see someone who runs around like a chicken without a head, and yes, chickens can run around without a head for a very short period of time, I always think of the song, “Busy Doing Nothing.” I can still hear Vaughn Monroe singing, “We’re busy doing nothing,/ Working the whole day through./ Trying to find lots of things,/ Not to do.”

Picture someone with a frying pan in one hand, a cell phone in the other hand, held up to the ear, and a broom sticking out of her rear end, sweeping the floor. Do you think this person is being productive or just busy?

Many people use “busyness” to avoid having to look deeply at themselves. They deliberately, or subconsciously, overschedule themselves and overcommit themselves to as many projects as they can so that they don’t have to face their unhappiness. If they have so much to do, they can’t possibly be unhappy . . . can they?

I remember a man telling me he wanted to come to me for counseling. Several of his friends were my clients and he was impressed by their progress. We talked for a little while and he seemed gung-ho about making an appointment until I told him that I give homework assignments to change the destructive patterns of behavior that were making him so unhappy.

Until that moment, he couldn’t wait to get started but as soon as I mentioned homework assignments to bring about the changes he wanted, he started telling me his schedule. He was on the board of the symphony, the ballet, the building society, etc., and he didn’t know when he could start. And that was the last I ever heard from him.

It’s not easy to face yourself. Indeed, it is much easier facing people who don’t like you than having to face the things about yourself that you don’t like.

Next time you’re too busy to take some time to do nothing but think, to reflect, ask yourself if you’re making yourself busy so that you don’t have to face the enemy within.

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