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Why Being Busy Is A Status Symbol

Everyone is busy these days. In fact, they can’t imagine telling you otherwise. Some are busy by necessity and wish it wasn’t so. Like mums, who relish in even a moment’s rest. As for the rest, especially young people and retirees, they choose to never sit still.

Being busy has become a status symbol among those who have the option not to be. It is a sign of a full life, letting the world know how engaged and popular they are. One woman in her mid-60s proudly proclaimed: “My daughters complain they need to make an appointment to see me.”

When I ask young people and retirees about their leisure time they respond with a sigh. They have so much on and seem to be endlessly going from one place to another without respite. My proposing that one solution is that they could just do less is met with bewilderment. It is as if the thought had never crossed their mind and they were hearing it for the first time. And they wouldn’t have a bar of it.

One reason for being busy is to stave off the blues. It’s easy to fall into a rut. Being constantly busy is a good way to avoid this. A bit like when people living alone like to have the television on, even though they may not be watching. They often do so just to fill the house with noise and avoid feeling isolated.

But mostly it’s about status. Consider, for example, updates on Facebook. Seldom do people write “No plans for the weekend” or “Just sitting around doing nothing”. Rather they relay the many and varied parties, social gatherings, activities and functions they have been to. The aim is to impress upon the world what a full life they have.

Mums with school age children sit on the other end of the spectrum. Their time is seldom their own. There is always something to do and mostly it is meeting the needs of others. A mere 10 minute time-out to have a shower or cup of coffee is a luxury they relish. They wish they could do nothing for a while.

When people complain of being impossibly busy – as long they don’t fall into the mum-of-young-children category – it is probably best not to suggest they do less. Instead they want you to be impressed.

An interesting question to explore is, just what is so wrong with doing nothing sometimes? Being rather than doing.

Where do you fit in? Are you always on the go even though you don’t have to be? And are you comfortable having no plans and doing very little sometimes?

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