growth mindset · Mandy Froehlich · reflections

Busyness as a Badge

As I’ve often said in previous posts, I have been so fortunate in my career to work in multiple areas in education. I’ve been a teacher, instructional coach, district admin and I’ve taught at the post-secondary level. With each change in position, I have been able to look at situations in education through a different lens and I’ve been able to actually walk in the shoes of different positions and what the day entails to serve whichever stakeholders I serve to the best of my ability.

Personally, I’ve been a student, a college student, a college student with kids, a wife, a mother who worked part-time, a mother who worked full-time, a mom who worked full time and finished grad school, and a mother who worked several jobs at once. I’ve always thought, in every situation, that I was extremely busy. With all of these personal and professional experiences, I’ve noticed one commonality. People wear busyness as a badge of honor.

I’ve had several of these discussions around the idea of being busy, but most recently the #edtechafterdark guys posted about busyness as a badge, and that has really resonated with me lately. I made a conscious decision awhile ago to stop talking about how busy I was. Sometimes, I still fall into the old habit that when someone asks me what I’ve been up to, I’ll answer that things have been crazy/busy/insane, but really, I’ve become better at realizing that being busy is relative.

I could give multiple examples both personally and professionally where people around me have declared a task can’t be because they’re busy. It usually starts with, “I can’t” or “I could never” or “That would be impossible”, yet there is another person, who may or may not have as much to do who will pick up the task and finish it with flare. When reflecting on this, I was reminded of this quote by George Couros:

Even though  George was referencing people moving forward and being innovative (or rather choosing not to), I think that the quote still applies to the badge of busyness. How many opportunities do people pass up because they feel they’re too busy to take on something else? I am certainly not endorsing saying yes to everything that is presented, but I feel like busyness is a mindset. Since changing my mindset about what I have to do, I have been able to look at situations with a calmer attitude, and I’ve found ways to organize my thoughts and calendars to work with a better flow. My “crazy” schedule didn’t change, just the way I thought about it did. Now, when someone else tells me how busy they are, I feel that I wish they would stop wearing the badge, change their mindset, and become less entwined with what they need to do minute to minute.
Along with busyness, I’ve noticed that at all levels, people question how truly busy other positions can possibly be. The fact of the matter is that everyone has plenty to do, it just may look different depending on what the work entails. For example, when I became a Technology Integrator, I would be sitting at my desk creating an instructional video for a teacher or researching new technologies, and inevitably a teacher would come up to my desk and say, “Since you’re just sitting there…”. It’s so important to remember that in each of our positions, in order to support a positive culture, we understand that everyone is working toward supporting students and their learning. There is no us against them, no we are busier than they are, no this level/grade/school/group has more to do than the other. It’s all in the mindset, and I think that it’s imperative that we all embrace the opportunities presented to us instead of flashing our busyness badge. 

4 thoughts on “Busyness as a Badge

  1. Mandy, I really love this post, as it aligns with my philosophy. I do what needs to be done, when I need to do it, and hopefully that means I'm helping someone else along the way. I will never say I'm too busy to help someone else. And I'm not going to talk about how busy I am. (Which I think sometimes is to my detriment because people think I have “all this free time” – kind of like the colleague who saw you working at your desk.)

    You're right – it's relative. “Busy” to one person may not be busy in someone else's world. I think sometimes people hide behind busyness because of fear or unwillingness to do more.

    Actions speak louder than words every day.

    Best,
    Jennifer

  2. Mandy…. I was going to read this post, but I was just too busy to do so! In all seriousness, this is an amazing post and I echo the comments made by Jennifer above! You're correct…Busyness is a mindset and I have to get better at looking at my own “busy” interpretation differently! Thanks for the wake up call and I will now be much more conscious every time I tell someone how busy I am! Great stuff!

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