Tim Kreider's editorial on "The 'Busy' Trap" continues to be on my mind, weeks after it appeared online. It's popped up in a couple of conversations I've had recently, and it's made me think about how we juggle our workload and free time, if we have any.
I know people who work 60 hours a week and rarely have time to chit-chat beyond a quick e-mail or text message. I also know people work up to 80 hours a week and still have time for bikeriding and kickball. Seems like approaching someone, even a friend or family member, requires some number-crunching these days. You don't want to drag your friends down with long conversations when they're in the middle of something that has to be done quickly, but isn't it nice to just say, "How are you doing?"
In the past few months, I've chosen to do this tactic: send a friend a text message saying, "When you get the chance, would you mind calling me?" Usually I get a call back or an e-mail back, but there are times that text messages fall into a cyber black hole. So whenever I have a chance to hang out with a friend who has a lot of plates spinning, I make the most out of the time we have together.
Recently, a friend of mine from New York was in town. We hung out all afternoon and even talked about Kreider's editorial. Since my friend is a freelance writer and podcast participant, I have no clue as to how busy he is or when he's busy. Being a freelancer is especially a floating thing because you don't really have set hours. I've thought, When is a good time to call him and ask how he's been?
At the wedding I MC'd, a friend I had not seen in a year suggested we talk more on the phone. We used to talk quite a bit, but when life gets busy with doing other things, setting up a casual conversation is like making dinner plans. They have to be in advance and be at an appropriate time.
I'm guilty of the busy trap as well. So much of my post-layoff life has been hurry up and wait. Lots of things come together, but then there's a lot of down time. Last night, I received a call from a friend asking me when I could give him some pointers on social media. Since I have plans for Wednesday, I suggested he call me on Thursday morning so we could set up a time later in the day to talk. As crazy as that trail sounds, it's more of a matter with finding the right time to give someone else your undivided attention.
Being busy is a good thing, yet I think it's important to not stick your head in the water for too long. We're all busy to some degree. Carving out some time isn't too much to ask, is it?