Free – adj: liberated, unoccupied, available to use.
Busy – adj: not free; occupied; unavailable to use.
These days, most everyone is busy. Fully in charge of our busyness, we say “yes” more often than “no” in order to satisfy the need to belong, to maintain our self-esteem, to enhance our public image, to feel important, to be productive, and to be worthy of respect. We are continually working on these goals, since they never seem to become actualized. When we achieve our target satisfactions, we naturally want to reach even higher. But, we never can really enjoy each new threshold, and are often left wondering, “Where did all our time go?” Each new season passes quicker than the last, and yet we feel as if we haven’t really done anything meaningful, since our busyness has resulted in less time for leisure, less time for self-reflection, and less time to "just be." These issues create anxiety since we know the truth behind being busy: busyness is self-afflicted.
Technology makes it very easy to afflict busyness upon ourselves. Most everyone seems to possess a wearable “smart” device. Earlier this month, Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, reemphasized our strong, personal desire to connect with robots and wearables: "Computing is everywhere in our lives today…That's what we want, talking to devices.” Wearables are undoubtedly useful in fields like health care, where they can send important feedback to doctors, thus improving the quality of our lives. However, in the personal realm, constant communication via our mobile devices can negatively affect our quality of life. We often overuse our devices, and become accustomed to mindless multitasking. We compose emails while talking to our mothers on the phone, we shop online while marching up the stair-master, and we post to social media while out to dinner with our significant others. Our devices may make it easier to satisfy our various needs during leisure time, however, the overuse of our devices may reduce the time that we are actually at rest, available, and free.
As our culture becomes increasingly linked to the virtual world, it is more important than ever to be available to ourselves so that we can affirm our place in the real world. In order to do this, we need to construct definitive boundaries between ourselves and technology. One simple solution might be to create physical distance between ourselves and our phones, such as leaving them in another room while we eat dinner. Another idea would be to turn off notifications to minimize interruptions. In addition, we could monitor the efficiency of our phone usage, limit our unintentional phone use, or set "no phone time" by putting them away after 8pm. Once we construct boundaries, we might discover that our schedules are a bit more liberated, that our attentions are a bit less occupied, and that we are a bit more free.
Click here for source content, "The Disease of Being Busy" by Omid Safi, 2014.