Hey everyone, welcome to the Red Door Creative podcast. My name is Jordan Farris and I’m the founder and owner of Red Door Creative which is a digital creative agency. My business exists to help great people do great things, and this show is one of the ways I want to help you be your best. I keep these episodes short and sweet because I know you’re busy like I am. Speaking of which, let’s dive into today’s thought on the topic of being busy.
For many of us, busyness comes easy.
From a young age, I was always a person who found it exciting to work. I couldn’t wait to get my first job, and not just because I wanted the money. It felt good to work hard and do a good job… to do things MY way and make sure they were done well. Plus, working hard is good right? Sure it is. I found satisfaction in hard work naturally… but looking back now, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel some type of unspoken obligation to be this way.
Over time, as positions became more serious and the stakes of my work became higher, I clung to my work ethic and gave my work everything I had. I can remember that at the end of a 12 hour day I would feel tired, yet satisfied. I was giving everything I had, and I was impressing my bosses with the very best of my abilities and effort. I felt like I was doing everything right.
Years went by like this. I thought I’d simply grown up and this is how the life of a working adult should be. What I didn’t realize, however, is that while I was giving everything I had to other people, I was losing myself on the inside. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I no longer had the same varied interests that I used to have. Life was work, eating and sleeping. The work sustained me, and I never lost interest in it… but it would be years before my thinking would be interrupted on this. I want to share with you 3 truths to keep in mind about our tendency to be busy.
Busyness doesn’t make you a hero.
There was a time when I looked at my weekly schedule and thought, “man, look how hard I’m working. Look how much people trust and respect my work. I must be doing it right.” But inside I was slowly fading away. The truth of the matter is busyness doesn’t make you a hero. Exhausting yourself doesn’t prove how dedicated you are to your work or to supporting your family. In my case, it actually proved to me how bad I was at managing my life. See, I had become addicted to working. It was all I knew. It made me feel good about myself. Society said I was doing it right. But real professionals live well-rounded lives with plenty of margin. If you really care about the quality of your work, you’ll invest in caring for yourself. Yes, it takes time away from your calendar. It takes intentionality. But I argue that building a better you should be your top priority - other things will fall into place when you begin to see that YOU are the most important person in your life.
That felt so wrong to me at first. What? Taking time for me? It seriously felt wasteful, but it was a game changer for my personal happiness. Now I’m careful to keep margin built into my life for journaling, reading, hobbies, and of course family time. Once you slow down and catch your breath, you’ll realize just how fast and how long you had been running.
Productivity doesn’t justify your existence.
The next thought I want to challenge you with is this: productivity doesn’t justify your existence. I used to feel like staying busy and quote-unquote “productive” was my lot in life. It was my contribution to our world. It was the tax I paid on being alive. Life can’t be all great, right? You’ve got to pay your dues in this world, and working hard seemed to satisfy this aspect of me that was operating in such a performative way. If you’ve ever felt this way, I’ve got news for you: there’s absolutely no need to try and justify taking up space on this planet. Nothing you could possibly ever do could act as penance for your existence, and this was mind-blowing to me. Once I understood what this meant, I no longer felt obligated to stay late at work. The work would still be there tomorrow.
Busyness takes a toll.
Finally, my last thought for you is this: you need to realize that busyness takes a toll. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, right? Understand that your energy and effort is a finite resource that needs to be replenished. It’s like gas in your tank… you wouldn’t operate a taxi service unless you had a plan in place to pay for the fuel. There certainly are projects and tasks that are worthy of our effort and energy, and I still believe that hard work is important. But WHAT we work on should become the focus of our decision making so that we can maximize our energy and effort.
Often, I would work on a project because I just wanted to work on something. Being out of the habit of caring for myself, I had to realize that I was afraid of silence. I was afraid of turning my mind toward the mirror and examining what was happening with myself. I was scared of what insecurities I would find in there beneath the clutter of my work. Filling your life with tasks and deadlines can erode your sense of self. Before you know it, parts of you are missing. Every project I work on has so much purpose to it now, because I know how valuable my effort really is.
That’s all for this episode of the Red Door Creative Podcast. If you got anything out of this show, follow my business @madebyreddoor on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I’ve got new shows coming out each Friday on all the popular podcast platforms, with more being added all the time. You can find those links when you follow me on social media. You guys have a great one, and we’ll see you next time. Thanks for listening.