"I'm up to my eyeballs."
"I'm in the weeds."
"I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off."
"Just trying to keep my head above water."
We are likely all guilty of saying comments like the ones above ... but WHY?! In the last few weeks I have really been paying attention to how I speak to my teachers and colleagues and how I respond to emails. I recently found myself getting caught up in the "culture of busy." As my friend +Jessica Powell explained, there are times when we are worried that if we don't TALK about how busy we are, people around us will think we're not working hard. I think she's exactly right. But here's a revelation I had about 3 weeks ago...
I was picking up my youngest son from daycare and a teacher from one of my former campuses told me that she missed seeing me and shared a conversation between herself and my old teacher's assistant. The TA told her that "No matter how busy I knew Jessica was, she always turned away from her computer and gave me her full attention when I came in to talk to her." Wow. I nearly cried because I knew that lately I had been slipping farther and farther away from the "culture of caring" into the "culture of busy."
I realized that my boss, +Kim Strauss, was the one who modeled the "culture of caring" for me. No one would ever deny that Kim, Director of Technology for Brenham ISD, is maybe one of the busiest staff members in our district. Keeping thousands of devices and programs running smoothly all day every day is a CHALLENGE. However, I don't think I have ever seen Kim frazzled or "running around like a chicken with her head cut off." She's calm and cool and collected and she, too, will turn away from her task at hand to give you her full attention when you walk in her office - no matter how "in the weeds" she is. Kim would never tell you how busy she is. I think that's a pretty darn impressive leadership skill.
So, I started really paying attend to how many times a day I tell someone how busy I am. I WAS EMBARRASSED that not only do I TELL people, I include it in my EMAILS! This self-study has led me to compose and delete several emails over the last week or so. I have stopped typing things like "I am so sorry I have taken so long to respond. I have been so busy. I'll have to check my calendar to see when we can get together." and started typing things like "Good morning! I am happy to help you solve that problem. When is a good time to meet?" When someone walks in my office, I am returning to the practice of CLOSING MY LAPTOP and giving them my full attention. The person in front of me who needs me is more pressing than words on a screen. In addition, I am really trying to remove "culture of busy" statements from my verbal interactions with others. NO ONE NEEDS TO KNOW HOW BUSY I AM! It's obnoxious! EVERYONE is busy! I'm not the only one!
Now...I have to add a disclaimer here. We all have inner circles...spouses and colleagues and siblings and friends...who allow us to let the guard down and have a share fest (to put it nicely!). My sweet husband patiently listens to me recount my "crazy day" so I can delete it from my brain and move on. But really, they are the only ones who need to hear it. Our everyday encounters don't need to be filled with a ... busy pissing contest ... for lack of a better way to put it. And CERTAINLY the people who work FOR you don't need to know how busy you are. IMHO.
So, I challenge you. Do a self-study on how many times you make "culture of busy" statements and try to go a week without them. I think you will be shocked to find how much nicer it is to eliminate those statements and ALSO how obnoxious it is when others around you use them. (Hope that's not too harsh!) Let's all appreciate that in our field, we are ALWAYS going to be busy. It's a given. This is a service industry. Let's just focus on the serving and not get caught up in trying to out-serve!