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Quick Trick to Feel Less Overwhelmed – Drop the “Busy Brag”

Posted May 9, 2014 by Lindsay Bosch in Life After Five
busytimeWEB Tell the truth. Do you start every email message with an apology? Something along the lines of: Please forgive my delayed response, as I have been traveling this month and working on a number of deadlines. I’ll admit that I do this pretty consistently. We are all busy, incredibly busy – and waste no time in telling one another about it.

Apologizing for being busy is a classic humble brag. When we meet one another over drinks or coffee, we can subtly convey a sense of our own importance by reviewing the demands of our “crazy schedules.” Well, essayist Hanna Rosin has our number. In her recent article, “You Are Not As Busy as You Say You Are” , for Slate she notes:

The art of busyness is to convey genuine alarm at the pace of your life and a helpless resignation, as if someone else is setting the clock, and yet simultaneously make it clear that you are completely on top of your game.

Rosin argues that busyness itself can be floated as a mark of social status, a kind of cultural capital. If you are busy – you are in demand.   A brag about busyness can convey a sense of our own full purpose and even bring a sense of glamor with it. There is nothing inherently wrong about bragging a bit about your schedule. However Rosin reminds us that telling everyone you have no time, actually makes you feel (even more) like you have no time. She councils that the sense of being overwhelmed is suggestible, and self-perpetuating.

One way to feel more on top of things may, perhaps, be to talk just a bit less about our to do lists.


9780374228446_custom-cb1b86eeea6a807d2c6903a1b0e74d593bdd6b0e-s6-c30 41y2X6GOT8L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ The conversation on how we manage (and speak about) our busy lives has come to the forefront this month with the publication of Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte as well as Ariana Huffington’s Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating A Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder. Both new texts tackle head-on our addiction to busyness and connectivity.   Schulte and Huffington each take on the ruling zeitgeist that we should all aspire to a 24/7 entrepreneurial schedule. The books offer suggestions on finding balance, and tempering personal expectations, and both take a clear eyed view that the culture of overwork takes a particular toll on women.

The stuff of life never ends. That is life. You will never clear your plate so you can finally allow yourself to get to the good stuff. So you have to decide. What do you want to accomplish in this life? – Brigid Schulte


About the Author

Lindsay Bosch

Lindsay Bosch is an arts and nonprofit manager who has worked in cultural institutions for over decade including the American Library Association, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Film Festival. Lindsay is interested in the self-driven (and often self taught) trajectory of women’s careers in nonprofits and writes about issues related to leadership, branding and work culture. Lindsay holds a Bachelors degree in Film and Media from Northwestern Univ. and a Masters in Art History, Theory and Criticism from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the coauthor of the art history textbook Icons of Beauty: Art, Culture and the Image of Women.