Stopping the Glorification of Busy

By Jessica Sublett, Bounce chief operating officer 

Since January, I have been asked weekly, “How are things at Bounce!?” And, for months now, I’ve been watching myself respond to nearly every inquiry (cringing each time I do) with, “Busy.”

Isn’t that the worst?

“Busy.”  A response that is meaningless, vapid and void. Yet sometimes, it’s all I can muster to say.  There’s just so much I’m working on at any given time that “busy” seems to be the only appropriate thing to say. But, no one wants to hear that I have been busy or that Bounce has been busy; they want to hear about exciting new developments, new companies that have moved in, new partnerships or new employees. 

Busy shouldn’t cut it.

I know I’m not alone. We’re all busy.  So busy, in fact, that we can’t even take the time to share details about our careers and our businesses, and we are coerced into a space when “busy” is all we can muster as a response.

For the first time in my career supporting entrepreneurs and startup businesses, I can finally relate to the balancing act that is starting a new organization. I have spent nights in the office later than I had originally planned and work has crept in on weekends when it was not supposed to.

There’s no question that I have spent the last 12 months being busy – and there have been many moments when the work/life balance tilted the wrong way.

Aside from taking the time to give people a more thorough response, it’s important to take back that work/life balance. And it’s not just important for me; it’s important for all of the business owners we serve at Bounce. 

In July 2017, Forbes wrote, in a scarily familiar tone, about the risks of a busy work life:

The push for longer hours and employees wearing overwork as a badge of honor are now so common, states one summary of the evidence, “that most American workers don’t realize that for most of the 20th century, the broad consensus among American business leaders was that working people more than 40 hours a week was stupid, wasteful, dangerous and expensive…”

Ouch. That hit a little too close to home for me. And I’m sure it does for a lot of you as well.

It’s hard, right? There’s not enough time in the day to answer all of the emails, finish all of the assignments and attend all of the meetings. But, it’s also not healthy to let the unfinished work creep into your personal life. We have to focus a little more on the life side of the work/life balance so that we don’t burn out.

As 2018 winds down and 2019 gears up, I’m already setting my new year’s resolution: Stop the glorification of busy. I’m going to stop making how busy I am be the focus and instead start celebrating how fulfilled I am, how much we’re growing or how exciting all the new opportunities for Bounce are. I am going to make the time to have a more balanced life.  Not only are people not entirely focused on how busy I am or Bounce is, but it just might help my mental health to focus on all of the positive things that are filling my time at work and to make more time for home life. Progress and growth fill our time, and those are things worth celebrating.

And there’s never been a better time to focus on growth! With the #ChooseGrowthAkron initiative taking off, our entire community is starting to pay attention to the details and incremental growth that fill up our busy work lives. For the first time, we’re celebrating growth as a community and the fact that we’re all in this together. We each need to take the time to celebrate our hard work and encourage others to do the same.

I’m going to re-answer the question for everyone that’s asked it this year: Things at Bounce are great! We have started a new nonprofit from the ground up; conducted a search for and hired a team of talented, motivated people; developed meaningful programming to better serve entrepreneurs; moved exciting, new companies into our building; commenced work on a massive construction project for a space that is aimed at benefiting our community; and collaborated with several local organizations in ways we never have before. 

Now that sounds a whole lot better than “Busy.”