The Strategy of Not Being Busy

BusyIn life, I am surrounded by busy people. I life, I am not surrounded by productive people. It’s strange to watch, sometimes amusing, sometimes annoying. Even the rusty patched bumblebee knows to stay on a flower long enough to get the nectar, though it’s odd to note that the bee is now endangered.

Distraction can be good. It can create intersections and new ideas, but the distraction isn’t of worth when the distraction itself is a habit. We live in a world where everything demands speed, attention to detail. Everyone is juggling to some extent. And somewhere along the way, society decided ‘busy’ was something to aspire to when really it isn’t.

It’s about being productive. And being productive might require being busy, but being busy works against productivity at a certain point.

I call it cavitation – at some point, a propeller in water turns fast enough to create ‘bubbles’ because of the changes in pressure around it. These bubbles actually stop the propeller from being efficient. In fact, they can cause a vibration that destroys the propeller and the shaft. Dear reader, you are the propeller and the shaft. Spin too fast, you get bubbles and you feel like you’re not getting enough done despite how fast you think you should be going.

Spin faster as an answer and the vibration will eventually kill you.

The other side of this is that we’re all a bit like submarines – move too fast, and the motion around us makes us blind to anything but our own noise. So in even moving too fast, in being busy, you aren’t aware of what you’re running into – which could be worse.

When you’re cavitating, it doesn’t mean that you should speed up. It means you need to slow, and if you must slow and you must get things done, you need help. And if you cannot get help, or the help you get is cavitating, the chain continues.

Speed is not part of the true Way of strategy. Speed implies that things seem fast or slow, according to whether or not they are in rhythm. Whatever the Way, the master of strategy does not appear fast.

– Miyamoto Musashi, Book of Wind, Go Rin No Sho (1645)

If you find yourself being busy and not being productive, slow down.

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