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  • ... our culture encourages us to confuse 'busy' with 'happy' almost as much as it encourages us to confuse 'busy' with 'successful.'

  • Rushing around smartly is no proof of accomplishing much.

  • We are always doing something, talking, reading, listening to the radio, planning what next. The mind is kept naggingly busy on some easy, unimportant external thing all day.

  • Too many people, too many demands, too much to do; competent, busy, hurrying people — It just isn't living at all.

  • Cut asparagus at night — in desperation. When one is very tired one always does one more thing.

  • ... time is always wanting to me, and I cannot meet with a single day when I am not hurried along, driven to my wits'-end by urgent work, business to attend to, or some service to render.

    • George Sand,
    • 1852, in Raphaël Ledos de Beaufort, ed., Letters of George Sand, vol. 2 ()
  • [Allegedly said when told an editor urgently needed a promised article:] Tell him I've been too fucking busy — or vice versa.

  • I don't know when the cult of conspicuous busyness began, but it has swept up almost all the upwardly mobile, professional women I know. Already, it is getting hard to recall the days when, for example, 'Let's have lunch' meant something other than 'I've got more important things to do than talk to you right now.'

  • Although busyness does not lead to success, I am willing to believe that success — especially when visited on the unprepared — can cause busyness. Anyone who has invented a better mousetrap, or the contemporary equivalent, can expect to be harassed by strangers demanding that you read their unpublished manuscripts or undergo the humiliation of public speaking, usually on remote Midwestern campuses.

  • The secret of the truly successful, I believe, is that they learned very early in life how not to be busy. They saw through that adage, repeated to me so often in childhood, that anything worth doing is worth doing well. The truth is, many things are worth doing only in the most slovenly, halfhearted fashion possible, and many other things are not worth doing at all.

  • Bustle, Sophronia, is not industry, as you very well know; people flutter and bustle about like a hen raising ducks, and then complain that their work has killed them, when it was the fuss that was the killing cause.

  • The season is changeable, fitful, and maddening as I am myself these days that are cloaked with too many demands and engagements.

  • Life comes in clusters, clusters of solitude, then a cluster when there is hardly time to breathe.

  • I find that when I have any appointment, even an afternoon one, it changes the whole quality of time. I feel overcharged. There is no space for what wells up from the subconscious; those dreams and images live in deep still water and simply submerge when the day gets scattered.

  • Lunches are just not good. They take the heart out of the day and the spaciousness from the morning's work.

  • I am furious at all the letters to answer, when all I want to do is think and write poems. ... I long for open time, with no obligations except toward the inner world and what is going on there.

  • One could do with a longer year — so much to do, so little done, alas.

    • Rose Macaulay,
    • 1952, in Constance Babington-Smith, ed., Last Letters to a Friend ()
  • It is the steady and merciless increase of occupations, the augmented speed at which we are always trying to live, the crowding of each day with more work and amusement than it can profitably hold, which has cost us, among other good things, the undisturbed enjoyment of friends. Friendship takes time, and we have no time to give it.

  • You do too much. Go and do nothing for a while. Nothing.

  • ... like all energetic people, the more he had to do the more time he seemed to find.

  • Grown-up people seem to be busy by clockwork: even when someone is not ill, when there has been no telegram, they run their unswerving course from object to object, directed by some mysterious inner needle that points all the time to what they must do next. You can only marvel at such misuse of time.

  • It is the large aggregate of small things perpetually occurring that robs me of all my time. The expense of learning to read might have been spared in my education, for I never read.

    • Hannah More,
    • 1826, in Arthur Roberts, ed., Letters of Hannah More to Zachary Macaulay ()
  • I am convinced that there are times in everybody's experience when there is so much to be done, that the only way to do it is to sit down and do nothing.

  • I know I am unreasonable about people but there are so many wonderful people whom I can't take the time to know.

  • People used to have time to live and enjoy themselves, but there is no time anymore for anything but work, work, work.

    • Laura Ingalls Wilder,
    • 1920, in Stephen W. Hines, ed., Little House in the Ozarks: A Laura Ingalls Wilder Sampler, The Rediscovered Writings ()
  • We are naturally reverent beings, but much of our natural reverence has been torn away from us because we have been born into a world that hurries. There is no time to be reverent with the earth or with each other. We are all hurrying into progress. And for all our hurrying we lose sight of our true nature a little more each day.

  • I'm the breathless woman / I'm the hurried woman / I'm the girl with the unquenchable thirst.

  • Most of us have trouble juggling. The woman who says that she doesn't is someone whom I admire but have never met.

  • I had repeatedly accepted inappropriate burdens, stepping in to do what needed to be done. In retrospect, I think I carried them well, but the cost was that I was chronically overloaded, weary, and short of time for politicking, smoothing ruffled feathers, and simply resting.

  • ... the less one does, as I long ago observed, the less one can find time to do.

    • Jane Welsh Carlyle,
    • letter (1865), in James Anthony Froude, ed., Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle, vol. 2 ()
  • I had not loved enough. I'd been busy, busy, so busy, preparing for life, while life floated by me, quiet and swift as a regatta.

  • ... if you are obedient to the laws which govern this universe, then your life is full and good but not overcrowded. If it is overcrowded, you are doing more than is right for you to do, more than is your job to do in the total scheme of things.

  • In a society that judges self-worth on productivity, it's no wonder we fall prey to the misconception that the more we do, the more we're worth.

  • When Satan cannot make you bad, he makes you busy.

  • My days ran away so fast. I simply ran after my days.

  • Busy people are never busybodies.

    • Ethel Watts Mumford,
    • in Oliver Herford, Ethel Watts Mumford, and Addison Mizner, The Complete Cynic ()
  • The ways of living have been rendered vastly easier by a multitude of inventions, by the increasing wealth of the country, by better and more intelligent service; and yet life is by no means easier, but indeed hard. The demands on time, whether real or imagined, have increased in a greater ratio than the supply of facilities for answering them, and as the earth provokingly continues to revolve on its axis just as rapidly as of old, the days are never long enough for all the duties which they bring.

  • Maintaining a complicated life is a great way to avoid changing it.

  • One of the great dichotomies we face is that because our lives are so complicated we don't have time for ourselves and at the same time we often keep our lives complicated so we won't have to address some of our inner issues.

  • ... simplifying my life didn't automatically mean that I'd slowed down, too. The speed of life on the fast track permeates every area of our lives. Hurrying becomes a habit.

  • But living fully doesn't mean having it all, going everywhere, doing everything, and being all things to all people. Many of us are beginning to see that too much is too much. Doing too much and having too much get in the way of being able to enjoy the things we do want in our lives, and to simply be who we are.

  • In a word, I am always busy, which is perhaps the chief reason why I am always well.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • 1900, in Theodore Stanton and Harriot Stanton Blatch, eds., Elizabeth Cady Stanton As Revealed in Her Letters Diary and Reminiscences, vol. 2 ()
  • Busy is an opportunity, not a dirty word.

  • [On busyness:] ... you with your six-page to-do list and your life-devouring job and that 'will work for sleep' expression on your haunted little face.

  • People who are genuinely involved in life, not just living a routine they've contrived to protect them from disaster, always seem to have more demanded of them than they can easily take on.

  • ... the soul wearies of a pauseless flight ...

  • Who waits until the wind shall silent keep, / Will never find the ready hour to sow.

  • A Superwoman isn't a woman who can do anything, but a woman who avoids doing too much.

  • Whatever a woman is doing, there's always something else she should be doing.

  • Many working families are both prisoners and architects of the time bind in which they find themselves.

  • There is too much doing — too little being! When we begin to get strenuous, life begins to grow intolerable.

  • A restlessness has seized hold of many of us, a sense that we should be doing something else, no matter what we are doing, or doing at least two things at once, or going to check some other medium. It's an anxiety about keeping up, about not being left out or getting behind.

  • One of the side effects of doing too much is developing monotone minds. We spend so much time in our work and in work-related activities that our awarenesses and our perceptions become narrower and narrower. We reach a point where we can't talk about anything but our work and, if the truth be known, we don't want to talk about anything but our work ... We have taken a rainbow and compressed it into a solid, uninteresting beam of light.

  • I was always going somewhere, or leaving somewhere, or expected somewhere. I felt like a mouse in an egg beater ...

  • ...we tend to equate full engagement calendars with full lives.