I’m so busy. I just don’t have any time.
Those are complaints I have despised hearing for years. Even in college, I used to sit around and think about how easy it must be to be an aged individual with a regular job and not have 2-3 hours of homework1 each night. People who complained about how busy they were must have been just wasting their time.
Like almost every other belief and opinion I once held, this general disdain for complaints of “being busy” has gotten a lot more complicated with the benefit of perspective.
What remains is the belief that in nearly every case I have experienced, people who complain about how busy they are brought >50% of their “business” onto themselves.
- Signing up for additional work.
- Buying things they don’t need that they then need to maintain.
- Joining groups or taking up hobbies that eat up what would otherwise be “free time”.
Complaining about being busy is the same thing as complaining about choices your former self made and the continuing choice you make every day to stay the course. But also, when I hear those complaints I hear a general dissatisfaction with life.
Life is busy. It’s all we do. ‘You either get busy living or get busy dying’, they say. People who complain about being busy are really complaining about not being happy with the things they are busy with. And if you chose those things, then I don’t really think you’re entitled to legitimate grievance.
All that said - I’m now aware of what some people meant when they say they don’t have time any more. It’s an accumulation of marginal gains (or losses, I suppose).
It used to be if I had to go somewhere I would just go.
- Phone ✅
- Wallet ✅
- Keys ✅
Now, simply “going somewhere” has become something partway between an elegant dance and sweating tactical details like it were wartime and we were about to go behind enemy lines.
- Phone ✅
- Wallet ✅
- Keys ✅
- 3 year old ✅
- 3 year old has peed recently ✅
- 3 year old has snack and drink ✅
- 3 year old has toys ✅
- 11 month old ✅
- 11 month old diaper clean ✅
- 11 month old diaper and wipes ✅
- 11 month old back up outfit ✅
- 11 month old snacks ✅
- 11 month old teether and/or toys ✅
- Car seats ✅
- Stroller ✅
Yeah I didn’t really think about much of any of that back when I was going through college. Nor did I consider the other litany of general “adult” things that hadn’t really kicked in for me just yet. It was smooooooooth sailing after I graduated, almost certainly.
And yet every year continues to be the best one I’ve had in my life. I’m not too busy for life, I’m busy actively doing it. The struggle is remembering the struggle is all there is, and not to struggle with it.
“Things are just Crazy Right Now”
A common follow-on of the sentence “I’m so busy - I just don’t have any time” is “things are just crazy right now”. This sentiment is one I’ve grown increasingly skeptical of in the past few years. It’s been “just a crazy time” for as long as I can remember… and if you can’t remember when it was “normal” instead of “crazy right now because of circumstances x, y, and z”, then maybe crazy is normal. It’s a justification, an excuse, to not do something someone should, or to be doing something someone shouldn’t. It’s just a crazy time right now.
But who am I to judge. Sorry if I’m coming across as ‘moody’ - it’s a just a crazy time right now.
One of the litany of reasons I haven’t written a post in two full months is that every spare moment I’ve had has been dedicated to other priorities. Chiefly among them is making rapid and pervasive changes to the house we moved into. After not changing our previous house until we’d lived there 5 years, we decided to make our new house feel like “ours” much more quickly by making everything about it intentionally to suit our needs and wants. We both refuse to grow complacent to those little things we didn’t immediately love about the new house. Things we never really got around to in the old house. Great example: I’m painting the gym ceiling. Never did that at the old place in five years. Did it here after two months.
The Diderot Effect is in Full Force.
See the Top 5s.
Why is it that 95% of the babies I know are at or above the 95th percentile in terms of height? Did they measure a sample size of 12 kids, from exclusively undernourished families? Or did they change the height (length, really) measurement technique? Or is my friend group really the parents of giants (as we are, too)?
A very powerful man once said perfectly balanced is how “all things should be”. Family. Maintenance. Hobbies. Work. I feel like those are the general dimensions by which I could break down my resource spend. I reckon those all break down into subcategories that themselves need to be balanced and maintained.
Anyway mine has been wholly out of whack for the past couple months. It’s crazy. This article from the (genuinely awesome) Doist Blog comes to mind.
Top 5: Home Improvements Completed Since My Last Update
5. Fixed the Lighting in the Office, Entryway, & Hallway
Replaced a single, way-too-low-for-my-comfort fan with recessed lighting as a small scale test for future recessed lighting projects. Also replaced a couple light fixtures with ones that are about 20x as bright.
4. Began a Massive Re-coloring Project
We are going from tans and browns to whites and greys. This started with a couple test door replacements & painting the fireplace white.
3. Overhauled the Garage
Removed everything from the walls. Fixed holes in the walls & ceiling. Primed and painted. Installed new outlets. Hung the bikes
2. Overhauled the Pantry
Replaced sagging shelves with better shelving with supports. Painted everything white and added integrated motion-activated hidden lighting.
1. Overhauled the Gym
Added rubberized flooring. Painted the unfinished wall and ceiling flat black. Replaced single, middle of the room bulb on its own circuit with a series of light bars all tied to the switch. Created a new dumbbell rack with integrated mirrors. Also got new gym equipment to complete my “home gym of my dreams”. I’d show a picture, but there’s truly 1 or 2 more small things to do (more mirrors!)
Top 5: Home Improvements Yet to Go
5. Install Recessed Lighting in Most Places
Cause it’s great.
4. Finish an Office Overhaul
French CLEATS. Test cleats are up & holding white boards, but they need painted and generally fixed up.
3. Replace All Doors
2 1/2 down, 7 1/2 to go.
2. Recolor Essentially Everything
Everything but the kitchen.
1. Redo the Master Bath… Maybe Completely
The master bath is bigger than our old one, but has several imperfections that I’d like to iron out. Might even knock down a wall in there… we’ll see.
Super easy, barely an inconvenience. Pitch Meetings writer character
Failure is most useful when you give your best effort. If you fail with a lackluster effort, you haven’t learned much. Perhaps you could have succeeded with a proper focus. But if your best effort fails, you have learned something valuable: this way doesn’t work. James Clear, in his newsletter
Your college experience may vary. That is what I reckon I was faced with each weekday. ↩