The De-glorification of Busyness

Posted January 27th, 2022 by Urban Legal Recruitment

Success has typically been associated with financial wealth and power. People often equate success with busyness because achieving this type of ‘success’  usually requires long hours and relentless commitment. With the arrival of a global pandemic, ‘busy’ has become the new normal. Is it time to rethink success and get your ‘busyness’ under control?

“Busyness has often been worn like a badge of honour,” says Stacy Cowan, founder of Urban Legal Recruitment. “While we often think the opposite of busyness is laziness, it’s actually purposefulness. When you’re busy, it’s usually other people driving your priorities and time. Purposefulness is about you prioritizing and controlling your own time.”

Many factors contribute to why we feel we need to stay busy, such as the need to be seen as important (ego), validation (I am not enough), and the pursuit of material goods. So what is being busy really accomplishing? Why is it important and how can we learn to disconnect and focus on living meaningfully and with purpose? 

Busyness Costs

We’ve all heard the old adage that no one on their deathbed wishes they’d spent more time working. Several of "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying" relate to working too much and not making time for family and friends. 

The costs of an over-busy life can affect your quality of life, and that of your loved ones, in a number of ways. 

Strained relationships

friends and family are constantly disappointed by your unavailability or, worse yet, give up and stop trying to include you.

Physical and mental issues

difficulty sleeping, exhaustion, eating disorders, lack of exercise, and chronic stress, which can wreak havoc on your mind and body according to the Mayo Clinic


you start to question your raison d’etre when you are too busy to enjoy the simple things in life and even material things don’t bring the joy they once did. 


feeling overwhelmed and pulled into many different directions can lead to difficulty making decisions. 

Inability to focus

with too many commitments, it may be difficult to be present and engaged in what you are doing. Combining several activities, like trying to catch up on emails during mealtimes, further impede your ability to focus.

If any or all of these indicators sound familiar, it may be time to take action.

Taking action

When survival becomes your predominant mode, your days are a blur and your unused vacation time is piling up, here are some steps you can take to get off the busyness treadmill. 

Plan your rest days.

Time for R&R is not just going to magically appear. Just as you schedule your clients and your children’s activities, down time needs to be added to your calendar and guarded religiously. Taking time to recharge will make you more productive. 

Prioritize what’s most important to you.

Being clear about your priorities helps guide decisions about what you do and when. Remember that your career has a much longer shelf life than your aging parents or growing children. 

Prioritize tasks.

Do the most important ones first so the consequences aren’t as dire if you don't get to the less important ones. It may be easier to start with simpler tasks to ease into the day but don’t leave the important ones till the end.

Rethink the concept of productivity.

How productive can you be when you are feeling overwhelmed, can’t concentrate, and are lacking in sleep and nutrition? Time invested in yourself will actually amp up your productivity in addition to making life more pleasurable. 

Practice saying no.

Sometimes our inability to say “no” is at the core of our busyness. There may be truth to the saying, “if you want something done, give it to a busy person”. 

Be clear about your goals and results.

Identifying your goals and defining what success looks like for you will help ensure you are spending your time wisely. 

Times of non-busyness are like the white spaces on a written page - without them the page would be one black block and ultimately meaningless. The white spaces are what make the page coherent, meaningful and rich.

“We need to stop using our busyness as a measure of our worthiness,” reminds Shona Tischner, ULR’s Director of Executive Recruitment and Professional Support. “We don’t have to be in perpetual motion to make the most of the time we get.”

As Socrates warned centuries ago: “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” 


Life. Career. Opportunity Awaits. If you have any questions, are considering a change, or just want to chat, we would love to hear from you. 

At Urban Legal Recruitment, we have experienced, along with our clients, the impacts of COVID-19.  We’ve made the necessary adjustments to ensure the safety of our team members and our clients.