You’re Too Busy To Read This

I know you only have two minutes, so I’ll be brief. In fact, don’t even bother reading any further.

But please stop using your busyness as an excuse.

I’m afraid that busyness has become a crutch for a leg that really isn’t broken.

In fact, busyness is the very thing that is ruining our lives.

Busy is Robbing You Blind

I have come to loathe the word busy with every ounce of my being. Yet in every relationship, that word seems to dominate the conversation. I think our culture has settled for busy and we pat ourselves on the back for having a full schedule.

When I ask a friend how he’s doing: “I’ve been really busy.”

When I finally connect with a client to review their account: “I’m sorry for not calling you back, I’ve been busy.”

When my kids ask if I want to go play: “I am busy today, buddy. Maybe tomorrow.”

What if busy is just another synonym for average?

Are we really busy or is that just a lame excuse for justifying the things we simply don’t want to do?

I wrote a book about living a rich life—a life full of gratitude, generosity, and humility. But I’m learning that one of the greatest adversaries of a rich life is busyness. Its deception threatens to rob us of true life with each passing minute. This is precisely why we wake up and realize that weeks, months, or years have flown by, our kids have grown up way too fast, and opportunities have passed us by.

C. S. Lewis said this:

“It is all but impossible to believe in the unfamiliar while the familiar is at hand.”

He’s suggesting that the Enemy keeps us busy in the familiar while unfamiliar eternal joy passes us by each day.

 

The Opposite of Busy

We often think the answer to being less busy is minimalism. Less is more, right?

Perhaps if we decommit or learn to say no, then we’ll be less busy and therefore able to live more fully. If we come up with a clever six-step process, then we will somehow conquer busyness. If we can download the latest efficiency app, that will do.

While those tactics will help, they’re like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound and will never fully free us from the mindset of busyness. Instead, we must attack busyness by becoming an expert in its opposite quality.

We must fight busyness by choosing to be present.

Busyness removes me from a situation, Presence draws me in.

Busyness tells me to focus on myself, Presence reminds me to focus on others.

Busyness tells me to think of all that isn’t, Presence reminds me to appreciate what is.

Busyness tell me that I have more to do, Presence calls me to rest.

One of the most paradoxical commands in all of scripture occurs as God’s people, the Israelites, are on the run from the Egyptians and Pharaoh’s army.

As the Israelites are pressed against the Red Sea, they begin crying out in fear, looking for a way out. Their leader, Moses, tells them this:

“You need only to be still.” —Exodus 14:14

What a foolish command in the face of an approaching army. It makes no sense. While the voice of busyness says, “Do something!” The voice of God says, “Be still.”

Curiously, as that story unfolds, God does His work. He parts the Red Sea, carries his people across, and conquers Pharaoh’s army.

If you’re lost in busyness today, I hope you would choose to be present—to be still, and rest.

It will take courage, it will demand a different mindset, but it will also provide you with an opportunity to trust God.

MH

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About the Authorheadshot-footer

Matt Ham is dedicated to guiding others toward rich living. His own experiences have led him to the understanding and freedom of a rich life, and through his RICH Principles he helps folks uncover true richness, identifying real treasure and discovering true joy and contentment.

His first book, Redefine Rich, is a journey of uncovering a deeper, more fulfilling life by shifting your perspective. It is available in both Kindle and paperback on Amazon: here

You can order a limited hardback version of the book at www.redefinerich.com

To contact Matt, visit www.mattham.com/speaking

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  • Jill Barlow

    This is a great post!!!

  • DS

    Presence also requires planning and personal discipline. But everyone we care about needs it. Any tips on being present in the face of busyness?

    • Hey David – there are a lot of follow-up thoughts on this that I will be sure to write about in the future. Off the cuff, presence requires a mindset that you approach that which you are engaged in, not allowing yourself to think elsewhere. Another key is proper priorities. Thanks for the spark 😉

  • Thought-provoking post, Matt! Most of the time, we’re all so focused on our to-do lists that we just don’t know how to be present anymore. It sounds counter-intuitive, but we must schedule time to do the things that make us lose track of time. For me, those moments include hiking, photography, and meaningful conversations. Time just flies by when I am in those moments because I am fully present and fully engaging in what I am passionate about.

    • That’s wise to schedule those times, too often, they are abandoned for the sake of something far less important.

  • MBranson6

    I read recently that the happiest people are the ones who are present where they are. The unhappiest are the ones always thinking about something else. For example, a student in a history class will be happy if he pays attention, because he will learn about history, do the homework faster, and have to study less for the exam, which he is likely to pass. This will give him free time to go out and spend time in the park. The student looking out the window and wishing he could be in the park NOW will NOT learn about history, take longer to do the homework, and have to study harder for the exam, which he may or not may not pass, all intruding on his happiness, and ironically reducing his free time when he COULD be out in the park.

    • I love that example. We sometimes have to remind ourselves of the payoff of being present.

  • I was too busy to read this article, but I’m sure it was good.

    (not really – I did read it)

    This is something I’ve been fighting. I’m tired to telling people I’ve been busy. It’s an escape for saying, “I know I’ve been doing something, but I can’t really remember because I am over-committed and mentally drained.”

    I talk about it some in an ebook I wrote. Two other books i read/listened to that deal with this are Procrastinate on Purpose by Rory Vaden and Essentialism by Greg McKeown. Highly recommend those!

    • You’re right, Josh. It is an escape.

      I had the privilege to interview Rory on my podcast. Great guy with great insight.

  • Whenever I hear some say they “don’t have enough time for xyz” I remind them (and remind myself) that you have plenty of time, You just choose to do something else with it. The hard part is making the tough choices of what to do. I have to be willing to say No even if I hurt someone’s feelings. – My time is precious so I need to be more selective of the tasks I share my time with

  • Stan Stinson

    This is one of, if not the, best post you have done yet Matt. The title is the best I have ever seen. I wasn’t going to read it because I was too busy but then I couldn’t help but read it. Great post. It stings a little but most great posts do.

  • Libby Bailey

    Love this, Matt! I have tried for years to rid my vocabulary of ‘busy’. Life is full and wonderful, and choosing to be present is hard but worth it every time!

    • Libby – in the midst of our busyness, we must realize our opportunity to be present for others. I think you’re pretty awesome at that 😉

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  • It is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I no longer wear busyness as a badge of honor, and focus on being present. It is still a daily practice, as it’s so easy to get wrapped up in it when that is how most people are living. But each day I try to be more and more present with people. Great post.

    • And, from my experience, you’re doing awesome at it, Tammy!

  • Josh Mitchell

    I don’t know if you recall me sitting in your office about a year ago and talking to you about “The Ministry of Presence” and how I felt like one day I would write a book about the subject. I distinctly remember it. Don’t be offended if I borrow from your words and the words of others to write about “presence” on my blog in the future!

    • Not offended at all. I believe it needs to be heard.

      • Josh Mitchell

        Our Pastor did a two point sermon today on friendships and said that there are two things lacking in most friendships that keep them from becoming great: presence and openness.

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