By Sam Beaumont
Being busy… It’s a lifestyle, an excuse and a metaphorical badge that we all seem to wear with a grim sense of pride.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about being busy recently. I guess it comes with the territory. When I decided to take on this course I knew I was letting myself in for a world of pain in terms of workload, but in recent days and weeks I think I’ve started to question the concept of ‘busyness’ with the suspicion and contempt it deserves. Are we ever really busy? Why does it have such negative connotations? Does any of this even matter? These questions, amongst others, are what I intend to explore in this SCAB…
It all started with a great masterclass from Seb Howling – former SCA student and all round top guy. As any reasonable person might, he had planned his talk based on the assumption that a room full of advertising students might just have seen this years offering of Christmas adverts. Unfortunately, we had not. ‘Why not?’, he asked. ‘We’re too busy’, came our sheepish reply. Cue a collective shuffle into our seats as shame and embarrassment washed over the room.
To me it was a real kick up the ass for two reasons. One was that it forced me to question what I spend my time doing. Realistically there are 16-18 working hours in the day and I must spend at least 2 or 3 of those thinking about what to do next or scrolling through various feeds and timelines. And that’s not even mentioning the down time. If I’ve got an hour to get my fix of First Dates, I’ve definitely got time to keep up with developments in the industry to which I’ve pledged my foreseeable future.
The second reason I felt the metaphorical boot against my buttocks was that I realised how pathetic it was to use workload as an excuse; a reason to be pitied. It’s not that we don’t have a lot to do – there are new briefs every day and none of us want to give any of them less attention than they deserve – but it’s our perception of busyness as a bad thing that I thought was an issue. As someone who spent several months between Uni and starting this course being notably un-busy, I can say with confidence that it’s much better to have things to do than not. Especially things you enjoy.
So what is it that makes the phrase ‘I’m busy’, such a symbol of stress and struggle? After much reflection (and a couple of Thursday night cocktails) I’ve come to the decision that it’s all just a mind set. Yes we have a lot going on, but I think that by the very act of moaning to people about how busy we are and receiving affirmation from them in the form of knowing looks and grave nods, the western world has developed a negative attitude towards what is actually just a better alternative to spending all day sitting in your pants watching daytime tv.
So, while I’m as bad as anyone at playing the overworked card, I think it’s time to cut back on the negativity. When we catch ourselves procrastinating, we should make a conscious choice to do something worthwhile. When someone asks us how work’s going, instead of the classic, ‘urgh, I’m sooo busy’, we’ll throw in a cheeky, ‘I’m finding loads of interesting stuff to fill my time’. And when we start feeling the pressure, we can just remind ourselves of how much better it is to be doing something rather than nothing.
Maybe then we can embrace this mad school and become the advertising legends we were born to be… GO PENGUINS!