Lately, we’re not just busy, we’re crazy-busy.
Think back to when you were just plain busy. Those were the days. In business, the pace has quickened. Thanks to social media, we’re engaging like never before. The stakes are higher. Expectations are greater. We’re biting off more than we can chew and designing new phrases for it. We’re multitasking. We could use a few more hours in the day. We simply don’t have the bandwidth. We’re swamped, deluged and buried. The assignments heaped on us, coupled with all the responsibilities of negotiating daily life, have moved us beyond the realm of normal busy and into a psychotic state of busy.
Perhaps you have received a conversation starter, email, or voice mail or two that begins exactly like this:
“Sorry, I haven’t gotten back to you sooner, but I’ve been crazy-busy.”
This is the new professional apology -- an interesting hybrid of “I’m so busy” and “Things have been crazy.” How on earth did we arrive at the crossroads of manageable busy and clinical insanity?
First, let’s define the term:
1. “I’ve been doing stuff that is not yours.”
2. “I forgot all about you.”
3. “You’re not important enough.”
4. “I accidentally deleted your email.”
The Distraction Economy
Consider the nature of multitasking. The Digital Era has impinged our already-fragile attention spans. There is so much to do in a given minute--let alone in an hour or a day--that it’s getting tougher to focus and process. The brain is a remarkable delegator. It can accommodate a seemingly endless stream of information and guide actions accordingly. But in The Crazy-Busy Era, we bypass system overload and go right to derangement. Despite our good intentions, we are distracted to the point of neglecting or forgetting and opt to plead crazy-busy. We are blaming our brains for our transgressions of professional courtesy.
The Crazy-Busy Brand
Two of the most desirable features in business today are accessibility and responsiveness. To know that, more often than not, you will get a live person on the other end of your phone call, or a prompt, courteous turnaround to your voice mail, email, or text, is at once reassuring and refreshing. Being busy is a desirable element of brand. However, if you are repeatedly lax in your response, or completely unreachable, it will militate against you.
A claim of crazy-busy unceremoniously shunts someone to the back burner. In essence, you are saying:
“I’m so busy that I can’t spare the 30 seconds to reply to your message.”
“I’m so busy that it’s affected my sense of basic human decency.”
“I’m so busy that I can’t draw enough oxygen into my lungs.”
“I’m so busy that I can barely keep my eyes on the road.”
The Critical Mass of Crazy-Busy
What is becoming increasingly unnerving is that crazy-busy extends beyond the workday. When we should be spending quality time with family or friends, we are tethered to our laptops, tablets, or mobile phones, eyes riveted to that screen as if to will the next incoming text or social media post. If we continue on this pace, getting busier and crazier, something’s gotta give. We will become a society of straitjackets confined to rubber rooms. There are not enough psychiatrists to handle the demand, and who would have the time to see them?
Social has played an integral role in creating a culture of accountability. We are expected to be available, reliable and present in the moment. Ambition is a great definer, but it’s easy to become a victim of our own stacked agendas. Regardless, our excuses are our own.
I would have liked to have written more, but I am--you guessed it--crazy-busy.
J.D. GERSHBEIN, CEO of OWLISH COMMUNICATIONS, is a specialist in the Art and Science of LinkedIn. He is a trusted asset to top executives, managers, entrepreneurs, professional service providers, salespeople, and those involved in the search for their next great opportunity. J.D. offers unrivaled strategic direction to individuals and firms—ranging from small to medium-sized businesses (SMB’s) to Fortune 500 companies— in using LinkedIn to build brand and generate revenue. Dubbed “LinkedIn’s #1 Brand Ambassador” and “The LinkedIn Black Belt,” J.D. is considered one of the top LinkedIn strategists in the world and a pioneer in the design and delivery of LinkedIn educational programs. A highly sought-after international speaker, J.D. draws upon his background in marketing communications, industrial psychology, neuroscience, improvisational comedy and broadcast media to inspire opportunity-oriented professionals in all walks of business. J.D. is also an Adjunct Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Stuart Graduate School of Business where he teaches the school’s first-ever course in social media. His first book, a treatise on communication for social business, will be available in early 2012.